People who work for camera manufacturers are like all of us: they have bills to pay and they need to make a living. And in order to do so, they need you to buy their cameras. So they have to convince you that owning their latest model is the only way to take great photos and if you stick to your old camera or buy one from their competitors, you are a loser. And a bad photographer. And if you want to be an even better photographer, you have to change your camera every year to stay up to date with the latest technology.
The reality is that you already own the best camera available: your own eye. And as clichéd as this may sound, it is true. A camera on its own doesn’t do anything. It’s just a tool. And someone who doesn’t know how to take photos won’t be able to take a good photo even if you give them the best camera in the market today. And what is great about the eye is that it doesn’t matter that we all have them and that its technology has been unchanged for millennia. It was, it is and it will be, at least for a very long time, the best camera out there.
And what is even better about the eye is that it will never take two photos alike, not even when a group of people are looking at the same subject at the same time. Because the beauty of this technology is that it’s connected to our brain and in consequence to our emotions and experiences. Thus, the image that I see will be based on everything that I have lived in my past. Which is completely different to everything that you or any other person has lived. And this makes the resulting image a unique piece of art.
Oscar Wilde in “The Decay of Lying” wrote:
“For what is Nature? Nature is no great mother who has borne us. She is our creation. It is in our brain that she quickens to life. Things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the Arts that have influenced us.”
If you feel that your photography is not at the level that it should be, I’ve got news for you: I’m 99% sure that it’s not your equipment. And I don’t say a 100% because there are photographers who from the nature of their work need specific equipment. But the majority of us out there are able to take great photos with the camera that we already have. We just need to push ourselves and our craft further.
There are various elements that make a photo great. And none of them involve the tools:
- have an identifiable subject.
- use good composition. And I’m not talking about the rule of thirds. Research composition in classical painting and train your eye.
- learn how light behaves. Photography is nothing without light.
- location, location, location.
- and if you shoot people, like I do, learn people skills and do not take for granted good makeup, beautiful hair and great styling.
If you master these basic elements, you are going to be able to take unbelievable photos, even with a smartphone. And of course, I am not saying that it is not worth it to get a great piece of equipment. But only invest on it when you really need to. I know that my business doesn’t need me to spend 40k on a camera at this point in my career. I will get there, eventually, but at the moment my current camera has still a lot of years of shell life ahead of it.
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