If cooks were like photographers, they would all their ovens in their social media profile pictures. I mean, have you ever heard a cook proudly saying that he or she uses a “bosh” to cook? You can agree that is would look slightly ridiculous. Nonetheless, photographers are proud of presenting themselves with the details of their cameras. Since when a photographer is defined by his or her gear? When people, commenting on my images, say that I must have a very good camera, I shake my head. It is not my camera that takes good pictures! Faby, at the same remarks, proudly replies that it is true, and that she taught the camera everything she knows.
The reality is that many photographers identify themselves with their cameras. They identify a good picture with a good camera. Truth is that gear rarely matters, and if you are able to take amazing photographs with a mediocre camera, with a great camera you will still be able to take amazing photographs.
Cameras as Flags
You may have read in this blog how much I love my camera, the Fuji x100s. This camera gave me back the pleasure to photograph, but I don’t think that my camera identifies me or my photographs. Today I find mirrorless amazing for what they offer, but what about tomorrow? I am not linked to one camera manufacturer, I shoot with what I have, and I have what I feel gives me the freedom to take the images I see in my head.
Countless times I have seen colleagues, more or less professional, stating the brand they use, if not the detailed gear. The point is that when I see a brilliant photograph, I don’t ask myself which camera took that picture. I look at the light, the shadows, the moment, and all the things that make that particular shoot appealing to me.
As a professional photographer, I am often in need for using different lenses for different subjects. This need is, almost always, something I feel, but that rarely reflects the reality. Do I really need to have an 85mm f/1.2? Actually no, I can utilize my almighty 35mm for (almost) everything. I can do it as I know the lens inside out. It is Fuji 23mm (35mm relative), which will give roughly the same result of a Nikon, Canon or any other brand with a 35mm relative field of view. I have used this lens so much and so extensively, that when I use a GoPro in narrow view, which is roughly a 35mm relative, I don’t need a screen: I know what I will get.
I don’t need a 24, 35, 50, 85, 24-70, 70-200 and a 300, and I think that very few people will actually need more than a couple of lenses.
One lens for One month
I would like to challenge you, especially those of you who feel that there is yet another lens that they ought to have, to stop for a while, mount one lens on your camera and go with that lens for an entire month. Do you want to play safe? Use a 50mm relative, it will be fine for almost everything. Do you want to focus on getting better at portraits and details? Pick an 85 mm or a 135mm. Do you want to learn how to tell a story? Go for the 35mm.
The key is to stuck with one lens for as long as you can, as you will learn how to use it fully.
Gear is just gear
Hi, my name is Carlo, and I am an INSERTBRANDHERE photographer. Really? Doesn’t it sound like the welcome line at the AA meetings? My point is that gear is just gear. Time will make today’s gear obsolete, and tomorrow we will have new players in the market, that will offer something we don’t have today. Imagine how many things may change if the next Lytro camera will provide a more professionally usable product: Isn’t it going to revolutionise the world of photography? Will that camera, with its ability to let the user pick the focus point in post production, made us (photographers who focus on their camera) dinosaurs? No, it won’t. It will make our job easier, but gear will remain gear.
The quality of a photo resides three inches behind the camera
If you really want to focus on the quality of a photo, look at what’s three inches behind the camera. It’s our brain, it’s the way we see things, how we are able to capture a worthwhile moment, it is how we compose and see things differently. Tomorrow cameras may be able to focus on their own, to provide unlimited High ISO capability, they may even clean the skin on their own, but they will remain gears.
To have a gear more than the other photographers, don’t invest in gear, invest in your photographic education. You will invest in making a good shoot after the other, knowing why.
If photographers would stop idolising their camera more and focus on themselves more, they would produce better images.
In order to celebrate this, in the next few weeks, during our trip to Italy, I have decided to leave my personal camera at home. I am sure I will enjoy the unfamiliarity of using a different camera.