Why Olympus helps me explore the world?
To talk about my passion for this revolutionary Olympus mirrorless cameras, I need to contextualize a little where I am, what I do and why. I live in a city called Campinas, a metropolitan city that is less than 100 km from São Paulo. Although large, Campinas is a good mix of the tradition of the interior of the state with the modern complexity of the big cities.
In 2016, after many years using Nikon cameras, I decided to give a chance to the Olympus OMD series. I chose the EM5 for the combo design, image quality and price: here in Brazil unfortunately still few photographer know these Olympus mirrorless cameras, and after much searching I was able to buy a used EM5 that came with the 14-42 version II kit lens.
The small camera enchanted me, and within a few days I realized I would not use my Nikon D610 full-frame anymore. When comparing image quality, I realized that for the style of photography I enjoy, it would be worth investing in this Olympus series: The d610 is a larger camera with larger lenses and draws much more attention from the audience.
The EM5 has a design that resembles analog cameras and this adds an aura of photography lover. In addition the camera walks near to my body. The persons cannot perceive that I’m carrying a camera. The discription and handling versatility (I need only the right hand to change exposure time, aperture and iso) are essential attributes for those who do not want to draw attention and need to gain the confidence of the people, generating empathy or not raising suspicion. So I ended up selling everything I had from Nikon to buy a good set of Olympus lenses and one more camera: the EM5 Mark II.
I do not fit the street photographer style’s label perfectly. Despite being an experimental photography style to some degree, I believe that classic street photography is focused on the relationship between people and city. I like this style a lot, but I think I experience the visual possibilities for a little beyond this urban relationship. Although urbanized, my city has a strong connection with nature.
In April of 2016, inspired by the experience of photographing with the EM5, I began to produce images of my city that later I baptized of Campinas by chance. The name came after I got a book from a close friend. I am passionate about Robert Doisneau’s photographs, and the first chapter of this book is called “Paris, by chance”.
I believe faithfully that Doisneau would fall in love with this camera. And I will try to explain why the style of this great French photographer would perfectly match the versatility that the EM5 offers.
Doisneau portrayed Paris and its residents as few other photographers. It is very easy to find beautiful photographs of Paris from the perspective of the rushed tourist. I go further: many claim that it is difficult to make an ugly photograph in Paris… but this photographer who inspired me so much could make beautiful images in any neighborhood in the world. The foundations of Doisneau’s photography are the intimacy, charisma and poetics of mankind relationship with the city. And I believe that there is an indispensable psychological factor for the photographer who wants to produce a photograph in this way: how comfortable you are in the environment you photograph.
The idea of comfort with the environment brings countless values such as knowing the patterns of light, recognizing the people and the characters, understanding who could give a beautiful portrait, where it is dangerous to walk, what level of freedom we can have with certain people… and mainly: what equipment will give you more creative possibilities without compromising the comfort necessary to see the story appear in front of us?
Campinas by chance is a serie of photographs that in essence were produced with two light lenses and extremely portable. In addition, they are two zoom lenses: the Olympus 14-42 version II and the Panasonic 12-32. I like the two lenses equally because of the creative possibilities they offer me and the incredible design. In terms of optical quality, these lenses are as good as my 25mm 1.8 and I would say that they come very close to the quality of the incredible 75mm 1.8 (these two prime lenses are very different, but since 75mm is one of the best lenses ever produced, the comparison values the two zoom lenses that are much cheaper). It is worth mentioning: the style of photography I make is produced during the day, and I like to close the lens between F4 and F5.6. I believe that in these aperture values, I have the highest sharpness quality of Olympus lenses and the depth of field I like for urban portraits.
The versatility of these two lenses and the discretion of the combo ( camera + lens) make me very comfortable. Both are very similar and so I just take one of them: I use more often the Olympus 14-42mm.
Personally, I believe that the quality and potential of photography jumps to the eye when we can approach or experience the details of something. It can be a flower, it can be a stone, it can be a fly, it can be a person. The more we offer the viewer the possibility of getting closer to the details, the better the photograph will be at various technical and psychological levels. Nothing like a brilliant eye, extremely sharp, communicating a feeling to be unraveled, interpreted. Nothing like a new perspective, and the feeling that people are great, and can be climbed like monumental mountains.
With the small and amazing EM5 I can do everything. Get close to the people with intimacy, respect and empathy. The less we think about the equipment, the more we experience the moment between us and our photographed subject. We gain more possibility about and know the other. The strange person, the unknown place, his qualities and what he can offer for the art of photography. The key is this: The more I talk to the stranger, the less strange I become to the world.
In this series of images, which I love to continue producing, you will be able to know a little of what I gave chance to happen before my eyes, in front of this incredible partnership that I have with this amazing Olympus camera. I recommend and hope that one day it will be more available to the Brazilian national market.
Christian Camilo is a street photographer and a visual artist. He has been taking pictures since 2001. Much of his work consists of street photography, abstract compositions, and portraits. He is inspired by great masters of photography like Ansel Adams, Saul Leiter, Jacques Henri Lartigue and Josef Sudek.