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Heroique
28-Aug-2015, 11:38
This week, after a fun day of LF work in a nearby Nat'l Forest, I hiked back to my car at the trailhead.

Five minutes later, I was still loading-up for my journey home, when an older couple (maybe in their mid-60's) came off the trail and returned to their car, next to mine.

My wooden 4x5 camera (Tachi) and tripod (Ries) naturally inspired their curiosity, and they asked a few of the questions we've all heard before except for one:

"Is this a leisure class pursuit?" the woman asked in a sincere, innocent tone.

(I suspect my older Honda Civic and their newer Mercedes meant the irony of her question didn't escape any of us. :D)

"If it is, it's the only one I can afford!" I replied, or something close to that. The friendly couple lived in Portland, they said, but enjoyed hiking and exploring the entire PNW region (as retirees, I suspect). They soon departed, well before I did, but their question about "leisure class pursuits" lingered in my mind, and occupied a part of my attention as I headed home.

It didn't take long for me to provide myself with a personal answer a slightly more serious one than the one I offered above.

Now I'm curious about your view: Is LF photography mainly a pursuit of the so-called leisure class? (Or more provocatively: Is this who we are?)

Whether "Yes" or "No," does an answer depend on one's income, free time, photographic objectives, image format, or state of mind?

Kirk Gittings
28-Aug-2015, 11:43
Not for me-it is an integral part of my income stream and more. This is how I view it. LF is about 30% of my income (architectural photo and teaching photo the rest), 75% of my business PR and 90% of my creative interest.

Michael Roberts
28-Aug-2015, 11:53
Kirk (and a few others) are the exception here, as most of us are hobbyists rather than income-dependent on selling photographs.

I see this as two separate questions--is LF a leisure-class pursuit (your inquisitor's question) and is LF a leisure pursuit (i.e., a hobby).

Based on some years spent on this forum, I think there are both types here. Although the leisure-class (well-heeled) are more likely workaholics than landed gentry or trust fund babies (the ones I know, anyway). There are also poor students here.

So, I would say the answer is clearly no.

And, of course, the two are not mutually exclusive. I am hoping to be an early retiree soon with a LF addiction. As a first generation college grad who has lived paycheck to paycheck for nearly 40 years, I don't consider myself part of a leisure class, though I will certainly have more time for leisure after I retire.

Vaughn
28-Aug-2015, 12:13
I have several income streams, one of which involves photography (print sales and workshops).

But primarily my photography is an artistic pursuit.

I have a day and a half left of "work" left before I retire after 24 years working for the university (halftime position)...and a prior 12 years with the US Forestry Service (fulltime seasonal). My three boys are 18 and off to college, etc. The house is paid for (doing foundation work right now...then a darkroom!). No pets, divorced. A bar next door and a brewery/taproom five minutes walk away.

So lots of leisure ahead -- and I'll do it with as much class as I can muster.

Paul Metcalf
28-Aug-2015, 12:23
Too bad you couldn't rewind the entire scenario and instead of your LF on the tripod you had a modern digital camera, one of the higher end ones, and see if you got a similar question: "is digital a leisure class pursuit?" I throw this out because one can get into LF photography for at least the same, if not a lot less, cost than comparable digital ("comparable" meaning equipment including output that rivals or matches what one can get using LF). Now if they meant that "leisure" was a time thing, than yes, LF is lesiure-ly.

BradS
28-Aug-2015, 12:25
The question is ambiguous.
Are they asking if large format is a leisurely pursuit...as in, do I do it for fun or for work...(I do it for fun only).
or are they asking if large format photography is a pursuit for the rich/wealthy/Bourgeois only? (I don't think so).

Jac@stafford.net
28-Aug-2015, 12:31
Being retired and disabled, any photography I can do is at my leisure.

Kirk Gittings
28-Aug-2015, 12:35
I have several income streams, one of which involves photography (print sales and workshops).

But primarily my photography is an artistic pursuit.

I have a day and a half left of "work" left before I retire after 24 years working for the university (halftime position)...and a prior 12 years with the US Forestry Service (fulltime seasonal). My three boys are 18 and off to college, etc. The house is paid for (doing foundation work right now...then a darkroom!). No pets, divorced. A bar next door and a brewery/taproom five minutes walk away.

So lots of leisure ahead -- and I'll do it with as much class as I can muster.

Good for you! You have earned it!

Heroique
28-Aug-2015, 12:35
Are they asking if large format is a leisurely pursuit... or are they asking if large format photography is a pursuit for the rich/wealthy/Bourgeois only?

She said "leisure class" because (I suspect) she meant adults, like themselves, with a lot of disposable time (and income), but I wish I had been quick enough to emphasize the "leisurely" working pace often required by our (leisure class?) work.

Kevin Crisp
28-Aug-2015, 12:36
I think in a national park the answer is always yes.

Struan Gray
28-Aug-2015, 12:50
To me, and my wallet, 8x10 Portra has always seemed like a Veblen good.

Drew Wiley
28-Aug-2015, 12:56
Leisure class? Yeah, it's fun. But just lugging around an 8x10 system most of your adult life is real work, besides the day job per se. And as far as having a lot of "disposable income" goes, there are plenty of welfare rednecks out there who spend more on speedboats, beer, cigarettes, and lottery tickets, than most of us spend on our gear, film, and travel expenses. And as for geeks and techies, plenty of them spend more on their daily Starbucks habit than I spend on large format
film each year. I like good coffee, but brew my own. It's all relative.

Heroique
28-Aug-2015, 13:17
I think in a national park the answer is always yes.

If only this had been my reply, for I think you're right.

Except that we were at lonely no-fee trailhead in Wenatchee Nat'l Forest – not Olympic NP, North Cascades NP, Mount Rainier NP, or Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

But let's call this a distinction without a difference. ;^)

-----
I'll add that Struan's "Yes" reply would have made immediate sense to them, even if they'd never heard of 8x10 Porta.

Jim Jones
28-Aug-2015, 13:53
I ain't got no class of any kind, but do make time to enjoy photography or to support the local school with pro bono coverage of events. On rare occasions there's even enough time to watch a feature on TV.

Dennis
28-Aug-2015, 15:19
The definition of leisure class is wealthy with time and money to do whatever they want. Not part of the working classes.

For me photography is a lower middle class pursuit. It would be a totally poverty class pursuit if my spouse didn't have a good income.

Jody_S
28-Aug-2015, 17:25
Definitely middle class or better. I struggle because I'm disabled and can only work part-time, which means for much of the year I have all the time in the world for it, but I usually can't afford to buy a lens just because I want it. Much less proper film. Thank the Invisible Pink Unicorn (BBHHH) for X-Ray film.

Jim Fitzgerald
28-Aug-2015, 20:57
I have several income streams, one of which involves photography (print sales and workshops).

But primarily my photography is an artistic pursuit.

I have a day and a half left of "work" left before I retire after 24 years working for the university (halftime position)...and a prior 12 years with the US Forestry Service (fulltime seasonal). My three boys are 18 and off to college, etc. The house is paid for (doing foundation work right now...then a darkroom!). No pets, divorced. A bar next door and a brewery/taproom five minutes walk away.

So lots of leisure ahead -- and I'll do it with as much class as I can muster.

Well, I'm not far behind you Vaughn. I put the boys through college, boy that set me back, bought and paid for a house in Vancouver Washington and working till October 30th and then I'm done. My photography hobby will expand along with woodworking and teaching. The wine fridge will be full! So I'll be leisurely doing my thing.

Wayne
28-Aug-2015, 21:39
Abundant denials notwithstanding, yes it is mostly a leisure class pursuit.

Vaughn
28-Aug-2015, 21:50
Well, I'm not far behind you Vaughn. I put the boys through college, boy that set me back, bought and paid for a house in Vancouver Washington and working till October 30th and then I'm done. My photography hobby will expand along with woodworking and teaching. The wine fridge will be full! So I'll be leisurely doing my thing.

The Columbia Gorge will be your backyard playground! Most excellent! I hope you'll have a parking place for my van so I can play, too!

Two silver gelatin contact prints (11x14) and a 5x7 carbon print...all from the Gorge!

sun of sand
28-Aug-2015, 22:21
I honestly don't know how much e6 costs to buy process and print
So it is pretty damn close

I took two rolls of b&w 35mm to praus productions to get developed and printed as I didn't want to do it
Processing not that expensive
But with him doing custom printing of negatives it would have cost over $200 for like 10-15 prints I had chosen

Who the f pays that except for the working professionals
Not me I took those mfing negatives and booked

I printed them and with all the custom work I did I'm sure
Positive
That level of customization would have cost 500-1K
If he would even have the time to take that on

So certainly paying for any higher quality custom printing of any size or process is for either the money making pro or the rich


B&w on your own is pretty cheap till you get into largest sizes of film/ prints and matting and framing
If you do that you'd better be selective, well off or have sales routinely cover costs
Or keep photography as your sole pursuit in life

With that said film costs just rose 1.3% while typing this post

Mark Sawyer
28-Aug-2015, 23:19
Hell, anything beyond food, shelter, and clothing is a "leisure class pursuit"...

StoneNYC
29-Aug-2015, 01:21
I honestly don't know how much e6 costs to buy process and print
....(snip)

$23.50/sheet for the cost and processing of Velvia50 8x10 for me.

That's...
$16/sheet cost
$7.50/sheet processing

Scanning and printing is another ticket altogether.

I think until your income from it exceeds your outgo from costs related to it, anything is a leisure class activity...

LabRat
29-Aug-2015, 01:27
Heck, coming from commercial photo, I've had a devil of a time trying to come off like I was slumming at a "Leisure Class Pursuit" so I wouldn't get busted as "Pro"...

Like the time at Morro Castle NM in PR, with the ranger pointing at my hand-held Technika III asking "You mean to tell me THAT'S an amateur camera"!?!!!

Maybe I need a silly hat???

Steve K

dwross
29-Aug-2015, 05:32
I have several income streams, one of which involves photography (print sales and workshops).

But primarily my photography is an artistic pursuit.

I have a day and a half left of "work" left before I retire after 24 years working for the university (halftime position)...and a prior 12 years with the US Forestry Service (fulltime seasonal). My three boys are 18 and off to college, etc. The house is paid for (doing foundation work right now...then a darkroom!). No pets, divorced. A bar next door and a brewery/taproom five minutes walk away.

So lots of leisure ahead -- and I'll do it with as much class as I can muster.

YAY!! Congrats!

Gary Tarbert
29-Aug-2015, 06:14
Yes any hobby , i suppose classifies as a leisure pursuit. my print sales last year exceeded my money spent . but if you added travel time spent shooting etc and put an hourly rate on it , then yes a leisure pursuit , but a great way to spend your leisure time IMHO

Ironage
29-Aug-2015, 06:25
I wish to believe myself pretty classy, and because the thought of selling and marketing my work would take all the pleasure out of the pursuit for me, the answer is simply yes. LF photography is a leisure class pursuit for me, even though my budget is limited to $140 a month.

TXFZ1
29-Aug-2015, 06:33
Class as in a course for instruction....sure, why not...same as a workshop for the basics.

Class as in a group sharing the same economic or social status...who cares?

David

jp
29-Aug-2015, 06:57
I'm closer to the workaholic class than leisure class right now. But I make time for photography.I hesitate to organize the US population by class lest I feed into what I see as a contemporary political problem by needlessly assigning classes. There's room for everyone.

The Internet and Ebay have made LF available to more economic/social status. The effective digital replacement of LF (and MF) as a professional tool and the death of a generation of photographers has made some great equipment available to a new group of less affluent amateurs. A desire to have an alternative to digital is also making LF attractive to a diverse range of users. I see every type of person with view cameras and field cameras when the local Maine Media Workshop + College is sending students into our community for projects and practice.

Jim Fitzgerald
29-Aug-2015, 06:58
The Columbia Gorge will be your backyard playground! Most excellent! I hope you'll have a parking place for my van so I can play, too!

Two silver gelatin contact prints (11x14) and a 5x7 carbon print...all from the Gorge!

Vaughn, I'll have two extra bedrooms for special guests! They have to be from the leisure class of course. Looks like the move will happen in December. I'll put your name on a room. You are welcome anytime.

John Kasaian
29-Aug-2015, 09:44
Leisure class pursuit? No more, nor less than any other pursuit. I'm unsure what "leisure class" is. I thought in the USA we're supposed to be a class-less society(as the customers of Walmart offer painful proof)
The urge to create Art (and/or memories) doesn't hinge on "leisure"---I think it is part of a person's wholeness to one degree or another. The invention of cameras and film served to make the pursuit more attainable.
I'd hazard to guess that the couple in the Mercedes have bought into the "Lifestyle" rhetoric popular with the materialistic sensibilities cultivated by the educational, financial and commercial , yea modernist interests of present.
I'd better shut up :o

sun of sand
29-Aug-2015, 10:34
There are social classes on this website lol

Jerry Bodine
29-Aug-2015, 10:35
...I'd hazard to guess that the couple in the Mercedes have bought into the "Lifestyle" rhetoric popular with the materialistic sensibilities cultivated by the educational, financial and commercial , yea modernist interests of present.
I'd better shut up :o

Or maybe the woman was just simply thinking of some activity for her husband to add to his free-time pursuits to get him out from under-foot more?

Wayne
29-Aug-2015, 10:45
I disagree. LF was never a terribly expensive pursuit until recently. I don't know about the relative price of used gear but the relative price of new gear has skyrocketed (1100 vs 5000 for my Wista 45sp in the 24 years since I bought it) and even IF used gear is relatively less the actual practice of large format film photography is relatively more expensive than ever. That's why growing hordes of people are using x-ray film.




IThe effective digital replacement of LF (and MF) as a professional tool and the death of a generation of photographers has made some great equipment available to a new group of less affluent amateurs.

jp
29-Aug-2015, 11:05
I disagree. LF was never a terribly expensive pursuit until recently. I don't know about the relative price of used gear but the relative price of new gear has skyrocketed (1100 vs 5000 for my Wista 45sp in the 24 years since I bought it) and even IF used gear is relatively less the actual practice of large format film photography is relatively more expensive than ever. That's why growing hordes of people are using x-ray film.

$1100 to $5000 over 24 years isn't bad; that sort of inflation has happened to cars, guns, food, and anything made of petroleum products. I don't think the lens and shutter manufacturers would be all gone or out of LF if there were not such a glut of used planars and tessars and such. Enlargers and enlarger lenses and darkroom stuff is dirt cheap these days still, even without the benefit of new supply. Good rare stuff is always expensive and since it's not so common, we can't measure the market with that. Chemistry is cheaper than ever (at least in the US) with generic products such as pyrocat and Internet competition from vendors that would not exist in a brick and mortar business system which would have stocked one brand.

Honestly, on the surface it seems analog photographers talk more about film than actually use film. (I whine about film prices too) Given the means, most would drop a grand on a lens they always wanted but would hesitate to spend that on film. If more people used Xray film, B&H and freestyle would stock it.

Alan Gales
29-Aug-2015, 12:05
No, I don't think class has anything to do with it. You can pick up a 4x5 monorail for less than $200 or pay thousands for some new camera. If you are rich you can afford that nice new Ebony with the expensive glass but it doesn't mean your pictures are going to be any better than the poor guy with the Calumet and an inexpensive 210mm.

Poor guy with the Calumet. I bet you couldn't say that when those cameras were new! :)

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/leisure+class

mdarnton
29-Aug-2015, 15:17
I use both 35mm (forever) and 8x10 (in the last year). One of the things that sucked me into 8x10 was that it's so incredibly cheap, and I am someone who actually prefers the look of x-ray film to regular film. If I want to buy an old Leica body (I use three, two of them inherited) just one could cost me as much as my whole 8x10 kit, including what I bought for developing, plus my scanner. Comparing new prices isn't really meaningful to me because I have never bought new, in the last 45 years, and now new LF equipment is purely a jewelry market. However, all used film camera prices are incredibly low now. Maybe 8x10 used to be a rich man's sport, but it certainly does not have to be now. Sure, there's always someone who only buys new and only the most expensive stuff simply because it's expensive. . . . but they do that in 35mm and digital, and cars and homes too---it's not an essential part of LF.

Bruce Watson
29-Aug-2015, 15:19
Is LF photography mainly a pursuit of the so-called leisure class?

This thought has never occurred to me. Strapping on 16 Kg of kit and schlepping it up the mountain has never particularly felt like a "leisure class" activity.

What LF is, is hard work. And expensive. And time consuming. Like most any artistic endeavor.

So, is music a pursuit of the leisure class? Painting? Dance? Architecture (don't answer Kirk)? Writing? Sculpture?

Tell a member of an orchestra, any member, that they are part of the leisure class and see how many friends you make with that line.

Heroique
29-Aug-2015, 17:20
Tell a member of an orchestra, any member, that they are part of the leisure class and see how many friends you make with that line.

Just curious, what class should one say they belong to (to win friends)?

It might be a suitable term for the LFers here.

Plus the best answer for the woman in post #1. :D

-----
The "natural aristocracy" just occurred to me, or "aristocracy of talent."

Jac@stafford.net
29-Aug-2015, 17:28
Tell a member of an orchestra, any member, that they are part of the leisure class and see how many friends you make with that line.

If they are on salary, then are they are they supported largely by the leisure class? Just asking.
.

StoneNYC
29-Aug-2015, 19:50
Anyone who's going to judge someone purely on their income or "not make friends with that person" as it were, isn't the type of person I would want to be friends with.

Good people are in all walks of life, rich and poor.