Monday, November 1, 2010

There are groups of people on the interwebs as we speak engaging in a war over the role of cameras in a photographer's work. On one side you have a group of people who think that if they spend thousands of dollars on the latest and greatest cameras from Nikon or Canon (which they also start wars over) then they will take better photos. The other group says that the camera doesn't matter at all, and that a photo is only as good as the photographer who took it.

I, however, disagree with both.

After spending the last year dabbling in film and lomography (photography with toy cameras), I've come to realize that the camera does in fact play a huge roll in what type of photographs I take. Notice I say what type of photo I take, not how good. I still completely agree with the second group that how good the photo is completely dependent on the photographer, but I've found that my style changes to mold to the new camera. My eye naturally and unconsciously gravitates to a completely different set of images based on the camera.

I take bad photos with all cameras. My portfolio contains images that I'm proud of from a professional grade dSLR, to a basic dSLR like your mom has, to even a couple photos from my $99 P&S pocket camera (and others).

What drives me up a wall is while I'm working in the art building at my university (or anywhere for that matter) and I over hear someone complain that they'd like to take better pictures, but they don't have a "real camera". Ninety percent of the time their answer to this problem is just sitting there on their butts. Their camera may have different limitations, but the ability (or disability) to take good photos is not one of them. For that matter, it has never been one of the limitations of any camera that has ever existed. So the first answer to these people sitting and complaining about their camera is to go out and use what they have. If, through using what they have, they find a specific limitation that is preventing them from getting a certain shot, then they need to get off their butt, get a camera (lots of people have the to borrow), and take the shot. Its really not that hard.

The only specifications that effects how good photos are is the photographer's eyes and butt.

---Alexander Moore

"If you want to change your photographs, you need to change cameras. Changing cameras means that your photographs will change. A really good camera has something I suppose you might describe as its own distinctive aura."
---Nobuyoshi Araki


Lucas Carter said...

I'd agree with you, for sure. I actually had someone pretty much attack me and my work claiming *the only reason i take the photos i do* and *the reason i have a professional job in photography* is because of my equipment.

i worked my way up, bought every last camera/lens/flash myself with money i made with my camera. Give me a 20 dollar vivitar 285 flash, nice 30' sync cable and an umbrella and i'll give you a beautiful portrait.

I think the biggest factor here is if you're looking at an amateur photog v a professional. As a professional, it's my job to walk into any situation, any environment, and then deliver. People think if they have the fancy equipment that they too can be a professional. It's not just having a camera or a job that makes you professional, and i've told this to people i've tried helping that are just getting started. It's a frame of mind and a lifestyle. I'm sure you would agree and do the same when i say i analyze every commercial photo i see, every lighting scenario i encounter. I see an enviroment and think, ok, if i had to shoot this, how would i do it and what tools would i use. The fact is, an amateur photographer will never listen to you. They just wont. The see a 5 thousand dollar camera in your hands and think, "Oh, THAT'S THE KEY.", because we have no way of holding our mindset, training, practice, failures and countless hours upon hours of work to get our photos to the caliber that they are.

jonathan said...

Good thought.

Also, not everyone is meant to be a foto-maker.