I use the above film based M 6 rangefinder camera for all my important work, and I have used it for years.

Leica Camera GMBH has come out with the MD 262 series camera it’s a ‘chimp proof’ digital version of my M 6. The Leica MD 262 has no screen on it’s back plate. The MD 262 user will rely on just the discipline of the moment. Chimping is the practice of taking your eye off the subject at hand and checking your camera’s view screen to see what you have just shot.

But the new Leica MD 262 costs about $5000.00, I would like to own one, sorry Leica, like many other pros I now can’t afford to. Narrative photographers work for themselves, we have to cover our own costs and make a profit in a world where there is a glut of cheap imagery for the market to choose from; we are now putting off the buying of the latest cameras. I think that at the foundation of our troubles is the ‘chimp screen‘ on the back of digital cameras.

By ‘our troubles’, I refer to both narrative photogs and the makers of digital cameras.

I say a big up to the people at Wetzlar for realizing this obvious in the Leica MD 262 camera, it’s a step in the right direction to unf**king our collective selves in the above regard. Removing the screen from the back of a digital camera won’t do an iota of harm to quality photography, but it will put disciplined shooting back into the world of photography.

Disciplined shooting is when I immerse myself in the surroundings and keep my eye in the viewfinder capturing the moments as and when I perceive them. There is no going back to collecting a moment lost to the distraction of the bells and whistles of todays camera bodies. Magical moments are only collected through a mix of luck and perception, a moment can flash and be gone ‘like a cat in a door way’ or a wisp of smoke in the eye of the subject. Chimping will do me no good, and it may just cause me miss the next moment of magic. I know of photogs who tape over their camera’s screen, others who just program the camera not to flash the images when buffering.

Real photogs just need aperture, shutter speed and ISO, the rest can be sorted out at home before setting out on the shoot, and the final results can be edited with a cool head when the photog feels that the moment is over, also back at home or base camp.

Having a back plate screen on a digital camera is like having permanent training wheels on your pro bicycle. Without them we will preform much better; and the world will have a sustainable supply of images and the pro camera makers will have a segment of their market back…

John Robinson is an in touch narrative photographer based in the streets of Africa



The camera relies on a tripod of devices to support light drawing of whatever is in front of it’s lens at any given moment in time. As a photographer I have always been more excited by the representation of moments in our collective lives. The three devices that this dark chamber relies on are aperture, shutter speed and the light sensitivity or ISO of the film or digital sensor. As a photographic trainer, it takes me about 4 hours to teach these 3 basics to another.

But it has taken me about 20 years to to fathom out other magics of the representation of the moments around me…

While feeling my way to representing the magic, I find it works for me to be in contact with my feet…

It’s important for me to feel with my feet, heavy boots don’t do it for this photog; I have become more in touch with my feet and like to grip the ground below my lens with my toes as I rake up the souls of those people around me. Canvas takkies or sneakers work the best for me. I call them shooting shoes, “you can feel at home in a pair anywhere”, I often as not take them off during a shoot too. For the heavy boot enthusiasts out there; consider that the special forces unit, the Selous Scouts also had a thing for lite footwear in their bush war in the 1970s.

Dancing is also important for me. A few years before my divorce went through, I did a duet in a ballet production of the faerie tale Beauty and the Beast at the local university theater. When I did that duet on the stage, it was just about my partner, the music and the story that we together represented for our audience. Doing a portrait session is much the same; the subject has to trust the photographer, only by working or dancing together the subject and the photographer can produce a telling photograph for the viewers to absorb for themselves. If I ever get together with a woman again she too must be a dancer…

We did not go onto that stage without knowing our movements, we practiced for weeks. In photography too: I first must be familiar with my subject, then I am in a place to fully use the moments that come to my eye and represent the the subject for my viewers as I perceive them. Know your subject area, start with what you know and move outwards from there.

I don’t have to be in exotic lands to produce wow pics for my viewers. I walk the streets of my own city of Durban, South Africa. I use this insider information to my exotic viewers advantage.



Community members march together against the threat of fracking in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa. South Africa is a water scarce region, there is not enough water for those who live here.

The community is afraid of what fracking will do the water table beneath their feet and want nothing to threaten their valuable resource.




Traditional leaders in Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa attend a workshop held by CREATE CBR to raise awareness around disability issues in the area.

Sometimes it’s the simple image that gets the message across. A photo is like a triangle, it has technique, composition and story. This time it’s just the simple story of a ‘saintly’ traditional leader reading the South African Constitution in the midday sun outside the Mpungose Traditional Court that is the driving force behind the photograph.