The Art Of The Dirty Ear

on July 06, 2021

Before you get too concerned, I am writing about the business of following photography in Perth in 2021...keeping your ear to the ground. We all like to think we are either up-to-date with every new thing...or so hide-bound as to reject novelty entirely...but in either case we secretly want to be in the loop, the know, and the cool kids group in the lunchroom. Here's how to do it:

a. Come to work for Camera Electronic. Stand at the shop counter 16 hours a day, a dirty bandanna wrapped around your ears, serving the thundering guns. Broadside after broadside as you sell equipment and answer telephones. That's where the bandanna comes in handy - you can't hear all that much. Eventually you will know all you ever want to know about the trade in Perth.

b. Join an internet group that keeps an eye on either the art or business of photography. These can be local, interstate, or international. As the pool of knowledge widens the value of it decreases - a lot of what goes on elsewhere never gets here. Be grateful for this.

c. Monitor internet pages that deal with the subject. They can be as basic as DPReview or Ken Rockwell, or as complex as the fan-group sites that revolve around brand names. A good deal of the information that you read will be speculative and reflect the uncertainties of other enthusiasts. There will also be flame wars to seek out or to avoid.

d. Visit industry open nights and seminars. Some you'll have to pay for, but the better ones have catering and you can eat and drink your investment back. Plus the industry reps will be honour-bound to get the new gear they are showing to work on the night. If they can't, you know to wait a bit longer before reaching for the credit card. If you go to every presentation of any particular rep - at different shops - you can monitor whether they say the same thing each time. They'll start to dread seeing you in the audience, but that's half the fun.

e. Join a camera club. That's actually a good idea anyway, as you'll have a lot of fun doing the things that the clubs do. The members are sometimes as confused as you are but they also know more than they let on. A lot of them have seen it all before three or four times.

f. Take a photography course at a school. This may be basic or advanced and you'll likely find out what you already know, but you'll also nearly always get something fresh.

g. Take a job in the shooting side of the trade. This may be hard to find, hard to do, underpaid, or at terrible hours of the day. It may harden your hide or soften your mind, but it will make you one with the other workers. You will have stories to trade. And you might be GOOD at it, which is exciting.