How I managed to like my photos By George Mastrokolias

How I managed to like my photos

By George Mastrokolias

Hi Steve and Brandon,

I’m George Mastro from Piraeus, Greece. I’m into photography about 10 years, but as a programmer I was actually only into the specs of cameras and not actually photography itself. I was hooked by reading reviews and I suppose I got addicted on reading all about the latest gear even though I didn’t understand all of the details at the beginning.

I had a small compact Sony at the time (2005-2008) and after a few years, dSLRs had matured enough so I thought that if I could buy one I would be able to take better photographs. So after a looooooot of reading I bought the Canon 40D with a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 which was a super combo. But I wasn’t pleased with the results. I was very disappointed indeed. I only had taken about 3k photos and I put the camera on an auction as I was sure it wasn’t the right camera and maybe I needed a 5D or something. But the problem was not the camera. It was the weight of it. It was a heavy combo and I couldn’t take it with me everywhere, so after a whole year the counter was only 3k and those were from the first month only!

Then mirrorless came into play and I bought the nifty NEX-5. As a matter of fact I had better shots with this camera but it was only because I was shooting more and more with it. But again not so mush as I wanted. I had to carry a small case along with it. That meant that I didn’ t had a camera always with me.

Then the magic happened! I bought an iPhone 5. Yes a phone, I know. But I finally started to shoot everyday hundred of photos. I realized that I liked it a lot. Much more than just reading for camera specs and gear. I also took a part in a contest and won! Yes I know! With a phone!!! It came in the top 5 among 3500 participants. That’s the winning photograph:


The contest was about photographing the public transportation of Athens. Winning the contest was the event that made me prouder that ever and then I became ever happier hearing that my photograph was all over the public metro stations and even in a gallery inside the biggest metro station of Athens!


Then I was reading and searching everyday of the way I could buy myself a new camera that would be better from a phone but also I could carry it always with me and that brought me to your blog. It was the Ricoh GR. I was sure I made the perfect choice and I know that today because I have taken 10x more pictures with this camera than every camera that I had before combined! Here are some shots:





Do you want to know what’s the funny part behind all the above photos? They are all taken on my way to work. Why? Because I have my camera always with me. I know it has became a cliché but “The best camera is the one you have with you” by far! I now like my photos more and more every day. I know that I have a lot of things to learn and I am not perfect but I own the GR for about 9 months and I think I’m moving towards the right direction. Enjoying photography as an experience!

My addiction about camera specs is now taken over by learning every day about film cameras. I bought myself a Yashica Electro 35 CC that got me my first Flickr Explore

Can you image that? My most liked photo is from a camera 40 years old! What camera gear and specs are you talking about people? I stopped worrying about that for sure. Next thing is to be a red dot owner, but I live in Greece so I think an M2 would be just fine. Until then, cheers from Pireaus!

You can check my Flickr here 😉

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  1. This post really spoke to me. I’m in the exact same situation. Fell in love with taking photos again by using my iphone and now i’m looking into getting a GR. I love your photos.

    • Indeed, the learning process is interesting. I have enough good gear, both digital and film. But, when I leave my house I usually only bring along my old Olympus E-PL1 and Panasonic 20mm/1.7.

  2. What a great article. Photography is always a personal journey and i liked to read about yours. Very nice images came with it. I think the M2 (or better an M3) will suit your style very well. Thanks for sharing.

  3. My experiences are very similar to George’s.After decades of film including college work in the 70s, my first decent digital camera was a Fuji F30 compact which as a truly pocketable camera, I took everywhere and used a lot. Then a few more compact cameras which after using a Rolleiflex, a Plaubel 6X7 and other film cameras with all the dark room work, were very satisfying and after decades of lugging huge cameras and darkroom work, I began to find small digital compacts in so many ways, very liberating.
    Of course, I still have most of my negatives, masses of prints and at some point, I hope to go through them and digitise and print the best ones because I still feel that at the end of the chain of process, the print is the thing.
    Anyway, to resume the narrative, when I bought my first ‘serious’ film camera, a Sony NEX 7, I found it wasn’t for me, mostly because of the crop factor – all my Nikkors and more recent purchases including some Zeiss Zms giving me a cropped image that just didn’t seem right. Gradually, like George, I found I was using my iPhone 5 with Hipstamatic and Instagram to process the images while the NEX-7 tended to be left at home.
    So I shall soon be buying a full-frame camera and probably a Sony A7II because I think finally this is the camera I’ve been waiting for – sez he. (I hope this won’t join my own personal list of ‘famous last words.’)
    Obviously be it an iPhone or something larger and more cumbersome, the camera that one has at hand is the best one, but in my experience, a small(ish ) camera is likely to be the best one for the flux of life.

  4. Brilliant stuff! I had a 5D for years and finally sold it and all it’s big heavy lenses for a Fuji X100s. Now I shoot everything with that camera or my iPhone and have never enjoyed photography more!

  5. Whoops, I meant to say Steve’s review! And a very long one at that. Here’s one of his key comments:
    “So after charging the battery overnight I installed it and just held the camera. Wow. Now this feels like a well made camera. If you have shot with a GR before you know what I am talking about. It is solid, sturdy, buttons all in the right places and the design is all stealthy black (which we pay extra for from Fuji and Leica sometimes). So the GR easily passes the build/feel test with ease. All I can say is that it just feels “right”.
    Right on target. But alas, at the end Steve says that he sent it back and bought a Leica. Check out the photos that Steve took with it in his review: He should still be using one.

  6. Thanks for sharing, photos and experience. Liked the B&W night ones the most . . . my own bias. I also bought Ricoh GR after seeing the images on this site and elsewhere, and then reading the reviews, of course. I have tried lots of cameras. I think the GR may be the best designed digital camera ever made. Every time you use it the results are great and you start wondering what’s wrong with all the other camera manufacturers. Okay, you have to live with the fixed 28mm, and I am still learning to use it well. But it covers a lot of ground, so to speak. I have another camera for longer lenses–I like to photograph birds and wildlife when I can–but I’m more comfortable with the GR than with any other camera. Happy that Ming pointed out its strengths so well.

  7. Hi George,
    I especially like your black and white pictures. You’ve got some great ones on your Flickr too.
    I’m now following you and waiting for the next images.

  8. George you wrote: “Can you image that? My most liked photo is from a camera 40 years old! What camera gear and specs are you talking about people”.

    I can certainly imagine that…but in Hollywood I was always told by my partner that “we were only as good as our OUR NEXT FILM”…so get going and keep sharing…you have a fine eye.

  9. George, thanks for sharing your thoughts and some wonderful photos. I especially like the one of the man and woman seated together. It looks like you caught a special moment. Well done.

  10. Nice sharing! I totally understand and can relate to that the search for something that can connect me to the art of picture taking. Some people says its not important at all, maybe true. But it helps if you and your gear can speak the same language I think. I´m not surprised hearing about your iPhone exprience, if you have the right timing and “eye” you can make it happen with most cameras!

    And nothing wrong with spending time searching for tools etcetera. If you have fun while during it – it´s just a hobby like others! Keep ´em comin´!

  11. I’ve realized that the camera actually plays an important part, but not the way you’d normally think. I don’t need the best camera. I need a camera that I’ll want to use constantly.

    When I switched to a smaller and lighter camera I started taking it more places and therefore taking many more pictures, and my photography improved considerably.

    These are some excellent photos by the way.

  12. Very good story and pictures George and I agree with Harvey, it;s the photographer first. Myself I joined Steve’s Blog a few months ago. I already got my first gear, through Steve;s advises and dream to be a photographer one day. My people around me, make comment’s about my dream and this is working as a “boost”, to learn more and more. I love it ! It’s a great way to explode yourself, from the daily routine and non sense priorities. I wish soon, I;ll be able to share some of my pictures as well. Buttom line, dreams cost nothing !
    Thank you and good “clicks” to everybody.

  13. Well done! I love the photos. It’s great that you have found a camera that suits YOUR needs.

    Like you, I found my gear to be getting smaller and smaller. Unfortunately, I can’t take a good shot out of my iPhone. I don’t know what the trick is.

    • vinced, there’s no “trick,” what you need to do is develop your eye. Look at Chase Jarvis’s book “The Best Camera is the One That’s With You” and you’ll see fantastic photos he took with the original iPhone. I would recommend you go to a library, look at photography books, and really study the art. Gear is only as good as your eye.

    • George FYI:
      Well the new Panasonic phone CM1 allows capturing in raw. This means you can have further post processing. There is a baseline what one can do with certain equipment but imagine what can do if you are provided with tools that give you more capabilities.

      By the way IPhone 5 is leaps and bounds ahead of the first digital cameras. Many universities offer courses on how to use phones as a photographic tool.

      Also it would irresponsible to say that phone made the picture. It is the artists choice to choose the tools that he uses. Therefore any tool is just fine and it should not be discounted.

      Nice Job George.

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