Mike Peters: A Study in Artisanship with the G9
When it comes to photography, Mike Peters’ point of view is as philosophical as it is technical: “My focus, as a photographer and fellow human being, it to notice people, to see them as they are at that moment, to acknowledge their existence as fellow travelers on this earth.” The session Peters shares here, shooting luthier Ian Peters working at Golden Age Fretted Instruments in Westfield, NJ, captures this sentiment, showing the precision, concentration, and artistry at work in the care and maintenance of guitars.
Shooting on a LUMIX G9 with a Leica DG Summilux 25/F1.4 II, Peters coveys a deep sense intimacy through his work. He visually communicates the meticulousness needed to do a luthier’s tasks well—the ruler held against the strings to measure their correct height, for example – and he makes creative choices that draw the viewer in, using his gear as a trusted partner. The lightness of the G9 and its many features, help his shots shine: Peters cites the camera’s “superb” image quality, auto focus, and the fact that “it’s very fast to operate . . . all of the controls fall directly under my fingertips.” In addition, the free angle finder, touch screen, and very effective AF are “game changers . . . they allowed me to use the camera in a way that was fluid, and also giving me unlimited opportunities to put the camera in positions that a fixed screen or EVF could never accommodate.” The nimbleness of the camera enables him to stay mindful of his surroundings. “On this assignment, I wanted to be very discreet as the working space was quite cramped and filled with expensive instruments. The G9 has a very quiet shutter sound, so it’s not intrusive when people are speaking, or listening to the sounds the guitars are making.”
Peters’ choice of lens is also quite deliberate in determining the overall feel of the session, as he didn’t want to have to carry anything additional, not even an extra camera or lens. “I chose a standard lens because it is the most versatile lens for every camera system. It can be used in many ways, but always keeps a very neutral rendering of a scene.” Peters cites the fact that there is no exaggeration of perspective with a standard lens. “For this project, that was important because I wanted the subject and his work to be the point of interest, not my technique . . . using a fixed lens also forces the photographer to work harder at finding different angles and perspectives, and because of that, I think the photographs become more interesting.” The Leica 25mm works seamlessly here, “providing a very fast aperture of 1.4 where it is very sharp, along with beautiful bokeh to allow distracting backgrounds to melt away is a soft blur.” He also notes that the 25mm focal length is also very flexible. “It’s one that I use quite often in situations where I prefer a subtle perspective that does not impose itself on the images. As the systems standard lens, it is the most versatile, allowing the photographer to pick out close in details, while also giving the capability to pull back and establish the scene.”
What Peters values most about the G9 is how it balances its technical prowess with its commitment to staying accessible for the user: “The G9 is the most fluid camera that I have ever owned.” With such a thoughtful connection to his equipment and a mindfulness in choosing just the right gear for his subject, it’s no surprise that the resulting shots, even though they take place in a crowded workshop, feel so elegant and relaxed.
A professional photographer since 1979, Mike Peters has been making photos of people for corporations, magazines, newspapers, book publishers and educational institutions. Currently he produces photos and video on staff at a university for all their marketing and editorial usage. He continues to do freelance work for a wide variety of clients such as museums, theater companies, and the healthcare industry. Ever since he became interested in photography, he has roamed the streets in search of photographs, taking his inspiration from what is found. His street work has always been done as personal projects. His main subjects are people that he finds interesting.