21 February, 2019

I was being nosey and overheard two photographers in a coffee shop recently. One was obviously an experienced photographer, likely an instructor doing a one on one session with a student. I happened to hear the experienced fellow say “Gear is critical, you need to buy the very best you can afford if you want to be able to take good photos! You can't get anything decent with a beginner level camera!" Oh my .. I resisted the temptation to step in because this is totally not true.

Consider the cameras that were used decades ago by some of the most famous photographers. By today’s standards, their cameras were crude yet these people were able to create some of the most amazing images. My old Pentax K100 digital that I used about 20 years ago was very crude by todays standards yet I produced some cherished images with that camera, and I am sure I could still shoot decent images with it today. A good photographer can produce good images with pretty much any camera. The key to becoming a good photographer is to develop our vision, and see the image before we even put the camera in front of our face. This means that even the best camera on the planet cannot magically turn you into a great photographer, you need to develop your eye not your camera. I had someone the other day email me about an image I shot and asked what camera I used because they would like to be able to shoot pictures like that. My response was "The camera is not relevant, grab any camera and use it a LOT!". The gear does not make you a better photographer!

Now to do a complete 180 … I can also say that gear is important! Huh!! I just contradicted myself. Well bear with me! If I have a camera that I do not enjoy using, I probably will spend less time with it, I will be less adept at using it and produce fewer images. Conversely if I have a camera that I love using and that truly becomes an extension of my vision, that camera will get used more often and with more enthusiasm and enjoyment. If I’m using it more and having fun doing it the inevitable outcome is better images as I develop my vision in the process.

Is gear important … yes and no … it all depends on your perspective. Buying a great camera will not make you a better photographer, but buying a camera that you love using will cause you to use it more ... and that will make you a better photographer!
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