Before thanking you for being with me like any other cheesy letter, I’d like to thank your owner – which happens to be my girlfriend, for creating memories in these photographs. They are of very petty stuff, which still make me happy every time I look back at them. And you, Olympus Pen EE3, I hope that you will still bring me the joy of seeing, shedding light on the poetry of daily banality. Here goes why you make a great camera / companion.
1. Small & silent.
Who created you must be a genius. First of all, you are so small and light, almost like a “Pen” (that’s a bit of an exaggeration) that you could be held in one hand and effortlessly slip into a pocket. The crisp sound of a focal-plane shutter might thrill others, but I prefer your humble, gentle shutter sound much more. Your compactness and silence makes traveling easy and the experience of taking photos less intruding.
2. 72 frames / 1 roll.
Who shoots film and isn’t concerned with the money matter? You half-frame feature splits one frame into two, so I can get 48 photos on a 35mm roll of 24 exposures, and 72 on one of 36 exposures. If lucky, I can even get 74 or 76 shots. A roll takes longer to finish and sometimes I grow impatient, but that intensifies the surprise of seeing images that I don’t remember taking.
3. New creative possibilities by pairing images.
But even when I could shoot 72 full-frame exposures for the same price, I would still choose you. I’m #teamhalframe – I just love, love, love the idea of a diptych. Having the outcome as a pair of images changes the way I plan a shot: it should reflect similarities or irony, present two angles of the same object, a medium shot and a close-up, a before-and-after moment, or display the continuity or interruption of an activity. I could rotate the camera to combine a landscape shot with a portrait. One difference in the format has created a plethora of new composition possibilities. It’s true that one picture is worth a thousand words, but perhaps I need more than one to tell a story. So despite the fact that you’re largely automatic like a point and shoot, I find myself thinking before shooting a lot more, not following the lomography’s ‘don’t think just shoot’ motto.
4. Almost fully automatic and reliable.
Without concerning myself with measuring light because you do that for me (when it’s too dark a red flag will pop in the viewfinder), I can focus on working on the content of a photo. Your nice sharp 28mm lens and can bring pretty much everything in focus – having reliable outcome when shooting analog is something I really appreciate.
5. You help me enjoy little pretty things.
Flowers and plants, people and pets, rivers and mountains, I nod my head to every cliched image there is. I’d rather take photos with a small analog camera and be seen as pursuing a useless hobby than bearing the burden that photography should be something noble. A quote by Saul Leiter, one of the first and greatest colorists might be the best to end this letter: “Some photographers think that by taking pictures of human misery, they are addressing a serious problem. I do not think that misery is more profound than happiness.”
Ha Dao is Matca’s managing editor. She is currently pursuing personal photography projects on minority groups.
Connect with Ha on Facebook and Instagram.