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It’s not the camera. It’s you.

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Buying a Nikon doesn’t make you a photographer.  It makes you a Nikon owner.  ~Unknown

“Wow, your camera takes great photos!” Ah, the backhanded compliment of the uninformed.  I’m okay with it.  I assume they mean “You’re a great photographer!” and move on.  No need to get righteously indignant about it.

However, I get kinda sad if they continue:  “That’s a really sharp camera!” “How many megapixels does your camera have?”  “How much was that camera?”  “What kind of camera should I buy to get photos like that?”

…The idea being that anyone who owns an SLR is instantly endowed with magical National-Geographic-worthy picture taking prowess. And can shoot your wedding.

No.

Hopefully you don’t realize this while looking over your horrible wedding photos.

This technological praising discredits the photographer’s skill, vision, and experience.
It instead equates all the quality, art, and passion of a photo to a lifeless tool.

You rarely see this happen in other artistic or athletic professions:

  • “Wow Mozart, your piano plays great concertos! How much was that piano?”
  • “Wow Usain Bolt, your shoes are really fast!  I wish I had shoes like that!”
  • “Hey Roger Federer, what tennis raquet should I buy if I wanna  play in Wimbledon too?”
  • Hey Lance Armstrong, what kind of bike should I get to win the Tour de France?

You get the point.  I’m not the best, but whatever skill I have, I earned.

In defense, the ignorant will contest, “But if it’s the photographer who makes the photo, why don’t you use a point-and-shoot like the rest of us, oh great master?”

To be fair, an SLR does technically take a “better” picture.
How?  A bigger sensor amounts to less noise at higher ISOs than smaller cameras.  More quality megapixels will produce a larger, more detailed image.

But if your current pictures already look like mediocre poo, upgrading to an SLR will only produce less noisy, larger, more detailed mediocre poo.

That's $7000 right there.

As a photographer develops in skill, they naturally gravitate toward better tools suited to accomplish their art.  Doesn’t any artist?

Eric Clapton COULD play a $100 Guitar to a sold-out concert.  And he would rock.  But he sounds even better on a ’65 Gibson SG.  It’s suited to his skill.

A pro photographer COULD use a point and shoot. And they would still take interesting photos.  But when given a tool that caters to their abilities, they can produce ART.

Anyway, I don’t want to discourage anyone that wants better photos from buying an SLR.  Don’t feel that you’re unworthy of it.  That’s what how-to books and entry-level kits are for!  There’s never been a better time to take up digital photography.

Just know that a more expensive camera won’t make anyone a better photographer.

The best photos in the world were not shot in AUTO.

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dia #

    I totally agree!
    Ansel Adams said that the most important component of a camera are the 12 inches behind it. Of course the camera makes a difference. A better camera gives you more freedom to use your artistic potential, but the results are still your own vision.

    There is also the classic remark: “Your photos are great! Do you use Photoshop?” And that reminds me of this:

    And of one joke:
    The radiologist tells the patient that he has two pieces of news: A good one and a bad one. Which one does the patient want to hear first?
    “-The bad one, sais the patient.”
    “-You’ve got a huge tumour on your lungs, replies the radiologist.”
    “-And the good one?”
    “-We can solve it with Photoshop.” :p

    June 18, 2010
  2. well stated. you are on a roll lol

    June 18, 2010
  3. Thanks Dia! That’s a good Adams quote too! Yeah, people naturally assume every good photo was Photoshopped. It’s true, TOOLS like Photoshop have enabled us to make what comes out of the camera closer to how it actually looked, or closer to our idealized artistic vision.

    Thanks Rashard!

    June 19, 2010

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