According to the quotations websites, Sebastiao Salgado and I both think that good shoes are more important than a good camera. If that's indeed true then I have a couple of pairs of shoes that are particularly photographic.
For this past summer I had a pair of outdoorsy water-safe sandals, which were indispensable for some of my photos from the Islands when the paths were under a foot of mostly-warm water. I would not have taken those photos without them, although I rarely wear them when I'm out with a camera otherwise.
My main photo footwear are the light hiking boots that I wear for most of my longer outings and all of my overnight walks. After six years I'm on my second pair of them. Photos from the beach will regularly have lake Ontario cresting above my ankles, and I can use them to walk my unathletic self up a concrete slab set at forty-five degrees. They're the only shoes I'll wear at the Spit, with its fondness for loose bricks and stray rebar. If there are rocks or water in my photos, odds are these are what I had on my feet.
For regular city use I'll usually stick with approach shoes in the summer or blundstones in the other three seasons, so these are what I have on for most of my photos. But after a few long days of walking and standing all day with the blunnies I start to feel it in my knees. So with the stores all celebrating the Black Friday - Boxing Week Month continuum, I recently decided to add another pair to my collection.
My goals for my most recent footwear was that it has to have more support than my slip-on boots, but be less intensive than my hikers. I needed boots that are comfortable enough to wear at work all day and/or walk a dozen kilometers, but without work-specific features like steel toes, ESD ratings, or similar. Light-duty waterproofing is vital for puddles and rain but they can't be insulated; I have proper winter boots for the coldest or messiest days. Finally, I wanted a brand and style that would still be around when I wore out my current pair, and maybe the ones after that, and of course they had to fit properly and be something I liked the look of.
But here's the thing – what I ended up buying doesn't matter to anyone who doesn't share my specific preferences. The key point is that I had a defined criteria, and found something that matched them, without it being a big deal or angst-ridden decision.
And choosing cameras can be like that, too.
It's been true for a while, but especially now: there's no 'best', and there's barely even 'better', when what we really need is 'most suitable'. And determining that is a personal decision, subject to changing needs and preferences. Yes, my Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX boots – a name so involved it would make Tamron blush – routinely top the Best Of lists on buyfrommylinksdotcom, but so what? That doesn't mean I'll wear them, or carry a D850 kit, when I'm just popping out to the park with the toddler. Closed-toe sandals and an Osmo Pocket are far more suitable for that sort of thing.
I'm not trying to say that finding the right camera is trivial, or doesn't involve some hard choices and self-knowledge. For one thing, they're more expensive and offer far less variety than shoes do, and sometimes last longer as well. So it's still a significant decision, and compromises must be found. But it's not a political decision. (Except in the way that, yes, the personal is indeed political.) There's no grand statements involved, there's no deeper meaning, and no matter what brand you choose, that company is not going to be your friend. Mirrorless, Fool-Frame, Fuji, Leica, Nikon, any other that I'm forgetting: it doesn't matter as long as it's most suitable at that time for that task.
And with this post, I renew my commitment to not bothering to mention the equipment that I use unless it has some specific relevance to the image itself. In odd-numbered months, anyway. In even-numbered months I may succumb and get a bit more gearish.