Cameras manufacturers market new products in a way that makes you feel like you have to have the latest and the greatest equipment to improve your photography. And many people fall into the trap. But if you think about it, every famous photograph was made with a camera that was less advanced than any modern day camera. So, have we plateaued with our creativity and photography skills? Do we always need the best gear to get the job done? Photographer Ted Forbes shares his thoughts on the matter:
Some photographers are so obsessed with gear that they forget that a layman doesn’t understand and value the gear that was used to take a photograph—or the medium that was used to develop the photo. These have nothing to do with the resulting image. All that matters is if the photographer is able to convey their message to the viewer:
“Painters don’t sit around and talk about what kind of paint brush or pencil they’re using or what kind of canvas they’re using, because nobody really cares about that. What you see in the end is the end result and that’s what matters, and I think the same holds true for photography.”
The camera that you use is just a tool to capture an image and tell a story. A medium format camera, for instance, may have a great build quality, amazing lenses, super high resolution, and the ability to take amazing photographs, but you still need to understand how to use it to fulfill your vision as a photographer. Image quality alone does not make a great image. It still relies on the photographer and their creative process to capture something beautiful.
On the other hand, a camera that has no quality control, no shimmering features, and which may not be able to take a brilliant looking image can still be a problem solving tool. Such equipment can force you to focus more on your vision and on ways to get that camera to work toward fulfilling that vision. The camera may have certain drawbacks, so you sit back and think of ways to overcome those drawbacks. It forces you to think creatively.
“For me, the common denominator between the cheapest camera you can find and the most expensive is you. It’s the photographer, it’s what you’re able to do and what you have to say, and it’s something that I think a lot of people lose sight of.”
A good photographer should be able to get a good image no matter what equipment they’re using. If the job in hand is somewhat specialized, like in the case of shooting macro, then yes, gear will matter, but again cameras, lenses, and other gear are merely tools to get the job done. Do you really need the latest and the greatest gear? Probably not. A better option is to make use of what you already have.
Don’t make the mistake of falling for the marketing hype that manufacturers create for megapixels, shutter speed, auto focus, and such other things. Try to understand these technologies and learn how you can use it to your benefit to create a beautiful image. That’s more important. Photographers from the past didn’t even have auto-focus and auto-exposure, yet they were able to create some amazing pictures.
Photographers are also guilty of blaming the camera for its deficiencies—and also for appreciating the camera when they get a good result. Again, remember that the camera is just a tool that depends on the skill of the photographer. You get hired based on your skills, not because of what equipment you use.
“I have never seen anybody in a museum gallery sit there and look at images and go, ‘I wonder if that was a Nikon or a Leica.'”
Well, what do you think? Do you still think that gear matters?
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