Your Photography Gear Doesn’t Matter


YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR DOESN’T MATTER

 

 

Why is it that even though everyone knows that Photoshop can be used to take any bad image and turn it into a masterpiece, that even after hours of massaging these images look worse than when one started?

Maybe because it’s entirely an artist’s eye, patience and skill that makes an image and not his tools. Even Ansel said “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”

A camera catches your imagination. No imagination, no photo – just crap. The word “image” comes from the word “imagination.” It doesn’t come come from “lens sharpness” or “noise levels.”

Walker Evans once said “People always ask me what camera I use. It’s not the camera, it’s – – – ” and he tapped his temple with his index finger.

Your equipment DOES NOT affect the quality of your image. The less time and effort you spend worrying about your equipment the more time and effort you can spend creating great images. The right equipment just makes it easier, faster or more convenient for you to get the results you need.

“Any good modern lens is corrected for maximum definition at the larger stops. Using a small stop only increases depth…” Ansel Adams, June 3, 1937, in a reply to Edward Weston asking for lens suggestions, page 244 of Ansel’s autobiography. Ansel made fantastically sharp images seventy years ago without wasting time worrying about how sharp his lenses were. With seventy years of improvement we’re far better off concentrating on making stunning photos than photographing test charts. Of course these large format lenses of the 1930s and today are slow, about f/5.6 typically. Small format and digital lenses work best at about 2 stops down.

Buying new gear will NOT improve your photography. There is always one more lens. Get over it. See “The Station” by Robert J. Hastings, as published in “Dear Abby” in 1999, for a better explanation.

The camera’s only job is to get out of the way of making photographs.

When it comes to the arts, be it music, photography, surfing or anything, there is a mountain to be overcome. What happens is that for the first 20 years or so that you study any art you just know that if you had a better instrument, camera or surfboard that you would be just as good as the pros. You waste a lot of time worrying about your equipment and trying to afford better. After that first 20 years you finally get as good as all the other world-renowned artists, and one day when someone comes up to you asking for advice you have an epiphany where you realize that it’s never been the equipment at all.

You finally realize that the right gear you’ve spent so much time accumulating just makes it easier to get your sound or your look or your moves, but that you could get them, albeit with a little more effort, on the same garbage with which you started. You realize the most important thing for the gear to do is just get out of your way. You then also realize that if you had spent all the time you wasted worrying about acquiring better gear woodshedding, making photos or catching more rides that you would have gotten where you wanted to be much sooner.

It’s sad how few people realize any of this, and spend all their time blaming poor results on their equipment, instead of spending that time learning how to see and learning how to manipulate and interpret light.

Buying newer cameras will ensure you get the same results you always have. Education is the way to better images, not more cameras.

Just as one needs to know how to use a typewriter to compose a script, one does need to know how to operate a camera to make photos, but that’s only a tiny part of the process. Do you have any idea what brand of computer or software that was used to create Evans Cheuka Photography website?  Of course not. It matters to Evans, but not to you, the viewer. Likewise, no one who looks at your pictures can tell or cares about what camera you used. It just doesn’t matter.

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