The CAMERA Matters
I’m sick and tired of hearing “photographers” saying: “the camera doesn’t matter. It is merely a tool. What makes my photos great are my skills”. Shut up. That is simply and utterly bullshit.
It’s the insecurity of a pseudo-photographer trying to distance himself from “amateurs” who can now easily afford the same cameras as him. Where as in reality, these are exactly the type of people you find in the latter group: someone with enough money lying around to buy x camera, and foolish enough to decide to make a career of it - taking lame-ass stock photographs of women eating salads that GettyImages won’t even buy.
These people are worse than cancer. These people are ruining photography. Not the amateurs.
There’s a famous story I like to share amongst friends about Ansel Adams at a dinner party. It goes something like this:
Adams arrives at a dinner party. He is greeted by the hostess. After the introductions, the hostess say: “Mr. Adams, I am a big fan of your work; you must have an amazing camera.” After this exchange, Adams grew quiet and silent for the rest of the night. He carried through the dinner processions without so much as a single word. And at the end of the night, as he bids his farewells, he turned to the hostess and said: “Dinner was fantastic Miss, I’m sure you have a lovely oven.”
And whilst I love this story for it’s humor, I think most people don’t fully understand the analogy. Of course, it’s rude to think a photographer’s only skill is operating the camera. But at the same time, it’s ridiculous to ignore the role a camera plays in the process of creating an image.
Let’s continue the Ansel Adams analogy of taking pictures to cooking. Can you bake me a cake using a frying pan? Can you sheer me a T-bone steak in the microwave? Of course not.
The idea of mastering your craft comes as an extension of mastering your tools. Only when you are 100% comfortable with the tools you are using can you create appealing art. If you gave Picasso a chisel and a hammer, would he be able to create the masterpieces that he did? Of course not. If you gave Banksy a paintbrush and some water colors, could he create those thought-provoking images on the streets? Of course not.
Back to photography, if you gave Ansel Adams a LOMO camera with a 90mm lens, would he be able to take those amazing landscape photographs he did? Of course not. If you gave a NatGeo photog a D3s and a 24mm wide-angle lens, would he be able to capture those stunning images of rare birds in the Amazon? Of course not.
So please, don’t tell me that the tools don’t matter. Because they most definitely do.
But also, don’t be foolish enough to think your images will be better because you bought a “better” camera.