Funny – and insightful – article by Photographer Gordon Lewis. I’ve been involved with photography and around many other photographers so long now that I can spot the “gear heads” a mile away. That’s great that they are passionate and enthusiastic about photography, but to place SO MUCH emphasis on equipment and gear is a mistake.
I’m paraphrasing another photographer out there somewhere, but “if a particular camera and lens were so great then it would go out there and capture images on its own.”
I’m not trying to offend these photographers. Really, I’m not, because many of them take my workshops. The point I’m trying to make (emphasized by the humor in this article) is that many aspiring photographers become so occupied with a particular camera brand or model, or lens, or whatever, that they fail to concentrate their photographic efforts where it matters the most – developing, enhancing and growing their “internal” camera, as in artistic vision.
Honestly, I can’t think of one time I’ve not been out shooting and I’m approached by someone (almost always a guy, usually older) with the “hey, that’s a Canon 5D (they immediately start “running” $$$’s). I bet you get good pictures with that camera. Hey, that’s some lens you got there ( . . . . start “running” $$$’s). I bet you get good pictures with that lens.”
What is it about camera gear that brings out the “geek” in so many people ? Why is it that camera gear is viewed as an arena of competition ?
Have we become so much of a consumer-drive society that the brand of product we carry trumps individuality and creativity ?
Yes, I’ve got good gear. Yes, it’s a significant investment. But what’s even better, and much more of an investment, are my skills as a photographer and vision as artist, not to mention a lifelong student of the nature of life and light within and on the subjects that I pursue with my passion for the craft and art of photography.
The most important gear in my toolbox is 10+ years old. Some of the things I use that make the most difference are the least expensive items found in my camera bag. Much of it was purchased used. I’ve learned what works best to serve my needs as a photographer. I don’t serve the gear, and the subsequent debt that inevitably follows the prioritization of equipment over process. Granted an entire industry – from manufacturers to retailers – has thrived on hobbyist obsession with the “latest and greatest.”
Just don’t ask me about preferred computer hardware. I guess when it comes down to it there’s a bit of “geek” in all of us. It’s just a matter of not letting him or her dominate who we really are, and the artist each of us was meant to be.