“…not a guy that talks about lenses and sensors.”

During my recent hiatus, I received a number of thoughtful messages.

One reader wrote (in part):

“Peter, to me you are an artist, not a guy that talks about lenses and sensors. Someone who posts, publishes books/images/works of art whenever he has something significant to say, not whenever a blog demands it.”

Another stated (again, in part):

“Don’t wear yourself out trying to give everyone what they want. You will use up everything you’ve got… and that would be a misuse of talent, time, spirit, and life…”

Not all of the comments were supportive.  One person wrote:

Isn’t this why you run the site? For the sycophants who drool over poor photographs taken with Leica cameras?

And another had this to say:

I think you have done the right thing to shut the site down. You work is not good enough… They are just family snaps that in the pre-internet age would have stayed in a family photo album, albeit taken with very expensive cameras!!

Well thanks for the input everybody.

The upshot of all of this?

I gave considerable thought to what I really wanted to do.

And now I’m going to do it.

One thing I’ve already done is sell my Leica Monochrom.  I enjoyed using it much more this time vs. my first go-around, but something – for me – in the experience and output was lacking.

Another thing I did was buy a Leica M3, some Kodak Tri-X, and a Plustek 8200i scanner.

Yes indeed, I’m going back to shooting, developing, and scanning film myself.  In fact, I tried developing a test roll today, but mangled up the film as I loaded it onto the reel.

What can I say?  I’m out of practice.  I lost 1/3 of the strip and most of the remaining frames are damaged.

(My friend Mark gave me a tip about how to possibly avoid that next time.  Thanks Mark.)

Right now, I’m scanning some of the frames from my mangled test strip.

I’ll post a few images if any of them are worth posting.

(Warning:  They are just family “snaps”!)

And in case you’re wondering:

I’m happy.


(By the way, I’ll have more to say about my Leica M3 in a future post.  And I still have the M9P.)

18 thoughts on ““…not a guy that talks about lenses and sensors.”

  1. Adam Spencer says:

    At least 70% pictures are of my family, its a very relevent subject, I love your family pictures and know either directly or subconsciously some of your lighting and mood add to my own experience. Additionally I own similar camera’s, M3 and M8. (plus a Fuji) and it’s appreciated that i can reference my images. Your experiences at developing will be of much interest to me. I’m so pleased you are continuing with your site. I really only follow a few sites three maybe four sites. I was away when you were contemplating what to do and will be donating shortly.

  2. andygemmell says:

    I don’t follow your site because you use a Leica Peter. I did initially a couple of years ago. I don’t own a Leica and won’t for the foreseeable future. Fun camera to use and great lenses but I’m enjoying exploring the other tools out there.

    I follow your work because of the images.

    I’d be 100% certain others do as well. Composition, perspective, timing and above all a subject matter which we all can relate to……family. I live on the other side of the world and have never met you. I don’t hang around on many sites just because it’s some family happy snaps! They have to be special (which they are) and I think what is important, have meaning to the photographer in a way that the image shines. If that happens then I also learn something.

    I’ve learn’t a lot!

    Thank you.

    • andygemmell says:

      I’m sure those people who bothered to email you with negative comment and opinion are reading these responses! Of course you are….that’s why you knew it was time to send a message.

      Well here’s a message….if you have the courage…..let’s see how you express yourself!

      I don’t suspect you will be forth coming. I don’t think you will know what to do with this suggestion. I suspect you don’t even have conviction to stand by your own work.

      Please…..at least do that. You’ll be better for it!

  3. mewanchuk says:


    I am glad you are back where you are happy…and belong!!

    Ironically, it was you who first started me on all this film craziness–and despite how little sense it makes, I certainly wouldn’t give it up for any reason. I wish you many many more pointless (and completely fulfilling) family snaps. I am looking forward to seeing the images…however “flawed” they may be found to be.



  4. Gage Caudell says:


    I really like Andy and Adam’s comments above. Can’t really say much more than that. In this crazy busy world, it amazes me how people even have the time to sit at a computer and write negative things. Obviously, they have other problems and this is just one way they attempt to make themselves feel better.

    Nonetheless, keep up the great work. You have definitely been an inspiration and I always look forward every morning looking into my email to see what picture you posted that day.


  5. Warren Maas says:

    First off, thanks for sharing the mystery lens with me. As for the rest of it, who cares. I participated in a workshop last weekend with Eli
    Reed in Austin, Texas. He was very helpful and supportive to us all, but as he said, at the end of the day, if you’re happy with what you’re doing who cares. Anytime you put yourself out on the web, you’ll have self-styled experts, who will express themselves no matter how stupid their comments may be. “To thine own self be true ” and enjoy what you do, which I think most times you do. You have a great family and you have many wonderful memories of them. Take care of yourself and that family. The rest doesn’t really matter.

  6. I look forward to your reentry into 35mm b&w. Should be fun! I’m trying to talk myself out of film altogether – I hope I’m not successful! But that’s neither here nor there.

    The negative comments are interesting, as they exhibit honesty on the one hand (those people really don’t like you) and dishonesty on the other (they won’t admit that your photos are ace). I know good imagery when I see it. Even if I didn’t like you, I could not be dishonest about liking your work. There are some lines one does not cross.

    I believe very strongly that the subject always serves the photograph. Whether it’s your family or a dead leaf or a celebrity (all within 200 yards of your home, of course): if it makes for a good photograph, it’s justified.

    Well, I have a roll of b&w that I want to get developed soon. I might, I might not. 🙂

  7. Paul Nash says:

    I am ashamed to admit how many moments I lost, telling myself that I’ll never forget that look, that face, that moment – only to have ithem displaced. I take pictures of my family because we all continue to change and grow, and time doesn’t stand still. I want to capture those moments, the happy ones, the sad ones, the ones that touch deep inside. And one day, I want to look back at all of these moments and share them with the next generation.

    Keep experimenting, Peter. Your talent is not based on the equipment you use. The equipment you use shines because it is in your hands.

  8. And in case you’re wondering:

    I’m happy.


    In fact, I was wondering. And I am happy to hear it.

    Enjoy the shuffled equipment. Ignore all negatives other than your film. Criticism that comes with personal sniping or belittling lacks credibility. I would speak up about your talent and achievement (and already have) but your beautiful work speaks for itself.

    Incidentally, your “family” must be very large. It includes among, others, construction workers, police officers, fire fighters, inn keepers, marathon runners, and (apparently) hundreds of children and adults.

    I do not know why family or the familiar as a subject matter negatively prejudices perspectives on the quality of art. An argument could be made that subject matter is irrelevant to this consideration. Another argument could be made that making the “familiar” into something more universal is even more challenging than starting with a “blank” canvas or detachment. In photography, this can be especially true. Making photographs of “strangers” offers greater degrees of freedom than negotiating the complexities of t is very difficult to look and see deeply beyond and into the familiar to find and capture the universal. You do this. Brilliantly. I would venture to guess that your professional training and experience as a physician offer additional insights into “seeing” people and surroundings that reflect in your eye and motivation as a photographer.

    Eudora Welty, american writer, white Southerner…..and skilled photographer to boot, captured this elegantly.

    Quoting from the closing lines of her collected lectures delivered at Harvard University in 1983 (soon thereafter published in a book entitled One Writer’s Beginnings)….. “As you have seen, I am a writer who came of a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.”

    All of our lives are sheltered to one degree or another. Some define “shelter” by outside measures like miles traveled, or yards from home, or even years. We are as sheltered and daring as we allow ourselves to be. The interior lives of the mind and heart can travel quite far from home. And can return home, too.

    Eudora Welty’s book of photographs (entitled, unsurprisingly, Eudora Welty Photographs, University Press of Mississippi,) was published in 1989. Most images were taken around her home town and surrounding towns of Mississippi in the depression and pre-civil rights era of the 1930’s, the 1940’s and beyond and they are stunning. Although she later did some traveling in her middle years, her strongest, most poignant photographs were those taken in places very close to her childhood and lifelong home. They reveal a kindness, curiousity understanding and vision unexplored and therefore undiscovered by many others around her.

    Distance from home…….3 feet, 200 yards, or nowhere near home…. should not distract us. it is how far and how deeply we are inspired to look and then see more clearly that counts most.

    A drooling sycophant (apparently)

  9. Aivaras says:

    Back-to-film! Back-to-film! Back-to-film! Hurray! 🙂
    And to the topic regarding foolish negative comments. Or all other comments that it seems to me that You take into account very seriously. Just don’t (don’t take to much to heart). Do what you want and be happy. And while you are doing it, know that you are very good at it. 😉

  10. Stephan Pot says:

    You said it Peter, you are happy and that is finally the most important thing in our lives. Enjoy going back to analogue. I promise you, it will be fun albeit sometimes a tad frustrating 🙂

  11. Linden says:

    Your site gives me the warm fuzzies. I enjoy the humanity at its core. You take nice pictures and you have something to say.

    I’ve never understood the mentality of people who take the time to express something (unconstructively) negative about content available that they are not obliged to look at, and which is available free to them.

    The nice thing about our hobbies is that we don’t need to justify our preferences and gear/medium choices to anyone. It’s part of the pleasure. I quite enjoy seeing how you go about these decisions, and it provides a way for me to reflect on my own choices. So I am one of those that do enjoy that side of this site. But it is secondary the ‘visual blog’ value of your photographs, and the family story central theme.

  12. jkjod says:

    “Just family snaps…”

    Boy thats pretty harsh, thats pretty much all I ever shoot! It seems that in this day and age the internet, comment sections, and social media all have degraded some peoples idea of what its like to actually communicate with people cordially – the “golden rule” seems to be lost on some people. Whatever your chosen medium your images seem to spill life and emotion out of them giving (most of) us quite a bit of inspiration. I am happy that you are posting again, as I truly enjoy your thoughts, photos, and typically thoughtful discussions in the comment sections. Keep doing whatever it is that makes you happy, and if in the end that includes some posts here and there on your site then we are all better off for it.

  13. gmlane says:

    Hi Peter. I found the harsh comments difficult to read, but when you are a much appreciated artist, you are also subject to such negativity. However, the truth is that your photography is so good that you often make it look easy. Those of us who work hard and often fall short of producing images that you are able to produce, value your skills and know how difficult it is to do, requiring years of experience. The subject matter is irrelevant, although I rather enjoy seeing the pictures of your family. And to the reader or readers who don’t think such pictures are deserving of special recognition, try to shoot family pictures that are as good and interesting as those of Peter. Enough said defending your photography which easily defends itself. Thanks for your site and sharing your gift of photography.

  14. deepsleep says:

    Love your site Peter. I have written before and I’ll write it again, happiness is a Leica film camera with “interchangeable sensors” called film. Some of my dearest prints are grainy and not that clinically sharp, but they have the soul, texture, and tonality that only film can provide. This is preserved with good developing and high resolution scanning. A good print is also key (I use Whitewall in Germany and digitally upload my scans) Baryta prints in B&W are absolutely beautiful and a thing to behold. (BTW I don’t work for Whitewall; just a fan) It is freeing knowing that my Leica M7 is and was the pinnacle of Leica film cameras. In a way, my lack of newer model choices lets me focus on what matters: my photography. Long live film!

  15. Out of the many emails I received privately, a total of four were negative, and I published two of them. In truth, I debated about whether to post them at all.

    Having made the decision to share them, I am truly grateful for all of your supportive comments. I wasn’t looking for affirmation, but I found it.

    Because I cannot find the proper words to convey my gratitude, I will simply say this:

    “Thank you”.


  16. Ignore the naysayers and do what feels right to you, I have long held the belief that I post for me, if visitors like it great but equally if they don’t I care not. As for analogue I’ve gone back to using it again hadn’t realised how much I missed it. I can see me forsaking digital for good in due course.

  17. I found your “family snapshots” magnificent — technically, artistically, and emotionally — and learned much from them. I also find your return to film inspiring. Recently, my 4-year-old Fuji X100 began to malfunction. I am now weighing whether to buy a replacement or to blow the dust off of my Rolleiflexes, field camera, and four-decade-old film Nikons and budget money for film and developing rather than for a replacement digital camera. Your return to film tilts my preference towards the latter option. I look forward to seeing more of your photographs. With thanks, Stephen

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