Whether you call it camera fetishism or camera fondling…it is all the same disease.

 Article Dedication

In honor of

Robert “Radio Bikini” Stone & Donna Ferrato


Over at the Rangefinder Forum they were discussing camera fetishism. Whether you call it camera fetishism or camera fondling…it is all the same.

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Join Date: Nov 2015
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Is the Leica obsession a fetish?

HNY everyone

Over the course of 2015 I acquired a couple of Leica lenses and an M3, all of which I use and enjoy. Yet since obtaining these tools, I’ve also developed a strange obsession with other lenses, bodies, etc. The 28mm summicron ASPH, the noctilux, the M-240, etc. Although an objectively low-earning type, I could probably afford buy an M6 and a 35mm lens, or whatever, which I would also use and enjoy. But my real question is whether or not the fixation on Leica merch and glass, tools if you will, is a fetish.

Does anybody else spend large amounts of time looking at pictures of cameras and lenses that they’ll probably never buy, even if they could? Is it a fetish? When I was a mechanic, I remember snap-on tools had a huge pull, but for whatever reason, maybe the marketing/ad dept, they never captivated my desire and imagination to such a profound level.

While I must say these tools have fostered a newfound interest (and ability to pursue) in composition, the darkroom, B+W photography, and I have educated myself the best I know how, something about the desire for more gear and the fascination with expensive glass feels oddly perverse. Sometimes you’re up at four AM and reading Overgaard or looking at the classifieds here and it just feels a little off.

The Rangefinder Forum gave me a lifetime ban a few years ago, but I still like to check in to see what the camera fondlers are up to even if I can’t post. Really, it is the best of both worlds for me. I can read the forum and comment exactly like I want to without censorship here. And I don’t have to listen to the head camera fondler that runs that forum.

Camera Fondler copyright 2015 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr

Well, I may have been the first to coin the term ‘camera fondler,’ but it is NO joke. I find the vast majority of the photogs on the photo forums are not serious photogs and fall into the camera fondler category. They spend more time fingering their cams and getting hard-ons than pressing the button.

We can see this in poor mgrinnan’s post. He wants to be a great photog, but the best he can do is read the want ads and fantasize about what to buy next. In short, instead of looking for opportunity to press the button more, he is looking at camera porn and drooling to acquire more equipment.

A common trait with the fondlers is this…they feel they can never produce anything worthwhile with what they got. They always blame their equipment and never themselves for their shortcomings. They believe if they only had ‘this cam or that lens’ – then they could produce!

Here is the deal…

If you don’t produce anything worthwhile photographically, then just admit to yourself your a collector / fondler. There is nothing wrong with being a fondler. The damage comes when the fondlers make themselves out to be experts at photography and dispenses the wrong information to the young guns coming up. That is the issue I have with the fondlers.

Here is an example…

One fondler on the photo forums said “why doesn’t Leica get rid of the rangefinder and shutter speed dial and put auto focus and a program dial on the M.”

Fondlers…do you ever wonder why your photos look like they do? Believe me fondlers, auto focus and a program dial has nothing to do with how my photos come out.

21Whoop-Whoop 21 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr


I was first exposed to the fondling notion after I inherited a few thousand dollars of silver when my mom died. I joined a precious metals forum and asked about disposing of it. After reading the posts there I discovered the precious metals devotees like to take their gold and silver and fondle it.

I was looking for a good tactical flashlight and joined a flashlight forum…same thing. Many members amass flashlights not to use them, but to fondle them.

You would never think so, but flashlight fondlers can spend tens of thousands of $ on their lights.

The SureFire HF4B Hellfire (circled in red) cost $4989.99 just for it!

Some flashlights that didn’t cost very much when issued now go for thousands of $… like this Surefire U2 Porcupine

Custom made flashlights can cost $1500 to $3000+ each…

Guns…same thing… lots of gun fondlers….they love to play with their guns, but never get round to shooting them all.

Flashlight and gun photos are from the internet.

Well, I must confess that every year or so,  I pull out my Hassy SWC to look it over and ‘dry fire’ it a few times. I give it a few minutes of fondling and reminiscing. I think back to the old days when the SWC was my mainstay.

Crazy Copyright 1975 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr 'Sunlit Slipper' Copyright 1973 Daniel D. Teoli Jr V16. 56 img525-Print V8 MR 50 img028-view V19 Print Final MR 36 img183-V8 MR 24 'Gypsy Woman' Copyright 1973 MR

But, I can’t develop too much of a hard-on for fondling the Hassy. I got 3 years of photos I have not even looked through yet. That is the curse of digital…makes it easy to produce prolifically.  So, I have to decide whether to be a serious photog or be a serious camera fondler.

…No, I don’t believe in marinating photos a la’ Eric Kim style. I’m just too overloaded with photo projects to have the time.


Well, there are worse things in life than being a camera fondler. There is nothing embarrassing about coming clean.

I mean…you could be into collecting soiled women’s panties for a hobby.

Araki – Tokyo Lucky Hole


Backup link:


Here is the confession of another camera fondler…from the Rangefinder Forum

Fuji fan
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lxmike is offline
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Co Durham NE England
Posts: 1,854

What is your most tactile camera

Rather embarrassingly l have owned far too many cameras and have chopped and changed far to many times however part of the fun is that l have come across a few great beasts that have been great to just sit with and hold. Another member on a different thread highlighted that sometimes a camera just by being there creates a need to fondle it, to hold it…l get this l really do, sometimes l use the excuse that l am just exercising the shutter speeds but deep down l know that l really just need to hold a certain camera, why because certain cameras just need to be held…and so what camera do you just hold, or what cameras have you used that were so special just holding them made you feel good…….just realised that maybe on rereading this thread l need to get out more or get therapy for me to hold a Barnack is a joy, holding and playing with my IIIf gives me great pleasure

Fuji X Pro 1, XE-1, X100, 35/1.4, 18/2
Leitz IIIf BD, Elmar 3.5/3.5, Summar 5/2
Zorki 6, J12 35/2.8
Kodak Retina 1a


He really developed a hard-on for his Leica…didn’t he. Well, at least this guy is honest. That is more than can be said for most of the fondlers out there. If the fondlers could realize one message from this post it is this. There is tremendous enjoyment when you can become settled and satisfied with your gear and are free to just produce iconic work.

A mistake I see many of the young gun, camera fondling photogs make is using big, bulky straps and half cases for their cams. They like to pimp their cams with loads of unneeded crap that weighs them down and makes their cam harder to use.

This camera fondler from the Fuji Forum (they banned me) spends more time changing shutter buttons than actually pressing them….


Cartier-Bresson on what is needed for doc work…


The camera fondlers are on an endless search for the perfect cam that somehow is just beyond their reach and is the ONLY reason why they can’t produce anything worthwhile.

All the while the fondlers load their cameras up with fancy push buttons, thumbs up, custom skins, hand made straps, leather half cases, fat grips, screen protectors and ever other goddamn thing they can think of to put on a cam to bloat their ego and make their cam more useless.

I see some camera shoulder bags selling for $750. An expensive bag will boost the fondlers ego when their photos won’t do the job. I don’t give a shit what cams I use or the bag I carry them in…as long as they do the best job they can for me freezing time.


Of course, when I bring this subject up on the photo forums…they ban me. I’ve been thrown out of a number of forums just for using the words camera fondler. People do not like their bubble burst.


Gamblers Anonymous on the subject of what may drive the fondlers compulsion…


“A lot of time is spent creating images of the great and wonderful things they are going to do as soon as they make the big win. They often see themselves as quite philanthropic and charming people. They may dream of providing families and friends with new cars, mink coats, and other luxuries. Compulsive gamblers picture themselves leading a pleasant gracious life, made possible by the huge sums of money they will accrue from their ‘system’. Servants, penthouses, nice clothes, charming friends, yachts, and world tours are a few of the wonderful things that are just around the corner after a big win is finally made.

Pathetically, however, there never seems to be a big enough winning to make even the smallest dream come true. When compulsive gamblers succeed, they gamble to dream still greater dreams. When failing, they gamble in reckless desperation and the depths of their misery are fathomless as their dream world comes crashing down. Sadly, they will struggle back, dream more dreams, and of course suffer more misery. No one can convince them that their great schemes will not someday come true. They believe they will, for without this dream world, life for them would not be tolerable.”


Jenny copyright 1972 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr

OK, the camera fondler may not be a compulsive gambler, but they surely fit into the compulsive spending category. Many addictions share this same dream world addiction. They need their drug of choice to use as an escape from the reality of life.

If you read the camera fondler’s threads on the photo forums they are always about ‘What did you buy?’ and ‘What are you planning to buy?‘ Why don’t they write about, ‘What did you shoot?’ and  ‘What are you planning to shoot?’

The only good thing about the fondlers is they keep the cam companies in biz with their continual spending. More than a few guys on the Leica forum wanted to spend $20,000 for a Leica with no screen when it was first introduced. They felt the screen was the root of their problems. The ‘screen’ was the only reason why they took shitty pix….SAD.


Camera Fondler 2 copyright 2015 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr

Well enough ‘Sontag theory’, lets get back to earth with practical application…

Personally, I use a shoulder strap less than 5% of the time. The only reason I would use a shoulder strap is when I need to carry and use 2 cams.

This is how I roll most of the time…


The camera fondlers want the most ego boosting strap they can get. They gravitate towards expensive, bulky, wide, handmade, custom leather and sometimes very bright straps.

I prefer minimal bulk with my wrist straps. The camera fondler would never go for one of the little straps I use. No ego boost nor would they trust their cam with it…the strap could break!

I put the little straps I use to the test. They have a 30 pound bursting strength and will hold 25 pounds with no problem.


Joel Meyerowitz recounts a story of Cartier-Bresson throwing his Leica in the face of a drunk to stun him while retrieving the cam with the shoulder strap. I can’t say the little wrist strap will take that abuse and not break. But barring that use, they have never let me down and I have owned many dozen of them.

Listen up camera fondlers, anal pixel peepers and fanboys…

All things being equal, it is the photog and not the cam that brings in the iconic shot. If you wish to improve your photos do more button pushing and less gear fondling.

BMG 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr

When it comes to having soemthing to fondle…get a boyfriend or girlfriend to fondle and use your gear for what it was intended for…freezing time.

Further reading:





Photographs used herewith are taken from the following limited edition artists’ books by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.


Encyclopedia of Photographic & Fine Art Ink Jet-
Printing Media – 12 Volume Set

Peephole: Peering into the World of 1970’s Hollywood and L.A.

Portfolio: Peering into the World of 1970’s Hollywood and L.A.

Bikers’ Mardi Gras

180: The circular fisheye at large!

Gender Benders from the 1970’s


Selection from The Americans…60 years after Frank

a limited edition artist’s book by

Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

A complete listing of artist’s books by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.



De Wallen Graffiti 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr.