Going up to a pro shooter and saying “if I had your gear I could do the same thing” is no different than jumping behind the wheel of a Formula One race car and declaring “look at me, I’m a professional race car driver.” Really ? Okay. Let’s see how you do when you turn the ignition on.
That was part of my response to a discussion going on via a link I posted on my Facebook business page. The link was to a very good entry @ lightstalking.com titled “7 Obnoxious Things People Believe About Photographers.” My additional comment was not meant to be mean or negative. It’s more of a blunt way to say “hey, there is so much more to photography – truly good photography – than the camera and lens.”
I get the gear question quite a bit. So much so that I can see it coming evening before the person walks up to ask me the usual questions – what kind of camera is that? how much did it cost? how can you afford it? it must take great pictures. Granted I’m happy to offer tips and advice during my workshops on gear and how to use it to further a photographer’s creative vision, but providing such advice is in context to the overall learning environment based on the goal of learning the ART of photography. The craft (technical) serves the art. Not vice versa.
It’s just that I think with the rapid rise in interest in photography – fueled by pro-level features on consumer priced DSLR cameras – has reinforced the illusion that all one has to do to call oneself a professional photographer is simply buy the right kind of camera gear. Not so, as people quickly realize when they attempt those first few shots with their new camera and view the results.
The tools serve the artisan. Paintbrush, paint, chisel, software, computer, canvas, easel, tripod, camera, lenses. It’s the trained eye and experience in the field that makes those shiny new DSLR cameras come to life. No different than an instrument in the hands of a trained and talented musician or a race car driven with the skill and experience of a professional driver.
I’m thankful for all the wonderful tools at my disposal – from Canon EOS camera bodies and lenses to my MacPro desktop system to the software for post-processing and editing. But the essence of what makes a beautiful image has to be there in the first place. The tools – the paintbrushes – are applied to accentuate, isolate, emphasize. To capture that essence is a balance of vision, experience and a keen awareness of the liquidity and quality of light.