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Friday by +Debra | It’s Not About Your Camera

16 Sep ’11
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 A great photograph is not about the camera that captured it.  The 6 inches (that’s your noggin I am referring too)  behind the lense is more valuable than the camera could ever be.  I have heard alot of people go on and on about cameras, and technical talk, and this, that, and the other.  I used to think: “wow, they must be great photographers.  They know so much!” then I would go home and look up their website, and often times be sorely disappointed by what I saw.  A photograph is should be about a moment, an idea, a piece of the makers imagination come to life.  My camera shows you the world, the way I see it.

Repeat after me: “It’s not about the camera.  It’s not about your camera.  It’s about you.  It is about your ideas.  It’s about your creative decisions.  It is not about your camera.”

Really.  I promise.  Leah and Mark started this whole thing with their entry level DSLR’s, imagination, and lots and lots of hard work.  Never once have I heard either of them say “oh the shoot didn’t go well, my camera wasn’t good enough.”  That’s becasue they know, it’s not about your camera.  Now if you know me personally, you know I shoot on such and such camera, and such and such camera is a nice camera.  It’s a workhorse.  My last camera, also a such and such camera was also a workhorse.  I shot over 300,000,000  photos on my last camera. Ok, maybe not that much, but something like that.  I worked hard, saved every penny, and invested in my next workhorse.  Sure, it is nice to have such and such camera, but it shouldn’t be your greatest strength.

It’s a tool, I use it to execute my ideas with (hopefully) good decisions.

The Interns will often ask me what  I think they can do to improve their photography.  I am really flattered that they think I would know.  Honestly, I tell them to make more images.  Don’t just take more pictures, make more images.  Think. Be Present.  Make decisions.  Then do it all over again, a different way.  It’s no surprise when I take 500 pictures of the same scenario but in 20 different ways.

Photography is about making decisions.  Deciding how to shoot something, how to compose it, what way to capture the light, where to stand, interacting with the subject.  Photography forces you to think on your feet, to make split second decisions that can make or break the shot.  You can shoot something soft, or you can shoot something with distinction at a higher aperture.

To me, photography is about ideas, cultivating an ability to see old things in new ways.   You can have the most expensive camera and lenses on the planet and still make boring photos.  You could have a 10 year old camera and make beautiful and interesting art.You should know the basics of your camera, it would be ideal to know how to change the settings in the dark.  But remember that cameras are not photography any more than a pen is a book, a brush is a painting or a foot ball is the superbowl.

Operating your camera with ease frees your mind to wander and create images, composing ideas and making your imagination a reality.  Working the camera is easy, the other stuff is hard.  If people focused on composition more than the cost of the camera, they would make better images.

In closing, I am pretty sure it was Ansel Adams who said something along the lines of: “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept. ”  Don’t worry about such and such camera, or what so and so has.  Worry about your ideas and make them a reality.

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