From Amy Touchette’s article for tuts+:
“It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.” Late, great Magnum photographer Eve Arnold once famously said that, and I’ve yet to meet a photographer who disagrees. But I would add that it’s only true when all is in working order to begin with, when the photographer is able to get out of the camera’s way in order to be the instrument.
Historically, street photographers have preferred small, unobtrusive, quiet cameras, because they allow them to be agile and discreet, the Leica maybe being the most well-known. Soon after Oskar Barnack and Ernst Leitz invented the Leica 35mm camera in 1924, many street photographers happily put aside large format cameras for its compact body and fast captures. For legendary street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, it was groundbreaking: “As I photograph with my little Leica, I have the feeling that there is something so right about it: with one eye that is closed, one looks within. With the other eye that is open, one looks out.”