Ever hear this one? “My new cell phone takes great photos”. If you ask me that’s about the same as saying “My new stove cooks great food”.
Or maybe its like “my new table saw makes great furniture”. Or that “new pencil” I bought makes great artwork. Oh and by the way, that new computer I bought writes fantastic stories. You should see the elegant proses and thoughtful plot development it creates.
Seriously, I have been in situations where I’ve shown my photographs to someone and the first thing out of their mouth is “I’ve got to get a new camera”. Huh? Did the camera hike through that snow covered field, choose a low angle and decide to use shallow depth of field all on its own?
Can you imagine walking out of a great restaurant and saying “That was a fantastic meal, I’ve got to renovate my kitchen”.
“Best wide-angle lens? Two steps backward. Look for the ‘ah-ha’.”
No doubt the backbone of the photography industry from the equipment manufacturers to the book and magazine publishers who push products and camera reviews is based on the notion that a large majority of “photographers” are just waiting for the right camera, lens, accessory etc to come along which will magically transform their photography to the next level. Some how its the equipment rather than a developed eye that is holding them back from greatness.
“Never forget that all the great photographs in history were made with more primitive camera equipment than you currently own.”
A better approach to learning better technique and artistry is to stick to what you have and work to produce the best images you can. Start with a basic camera and a standard lens. Work that equipment until you know all of its qualities, limitations, strengths and weaknesses. Then forget about the equipment and concentrate on the art and what you are trying to say with your work.
“The fact is that relatively few photographers ever master their medium. Instead they allow the medium to master them and go on an endless squirrel cage chase from new lens to new paper to new developer to new gadget, never staying with one piece of equipment long enough to learn its full capacities, becoming lost in a maze of technical information that is of little or no use since they don’t know what to do with it.”
Plenty of famous photographers build their entire lives work around a single camera or focal length. A new camera or new lens brings excitement to the amateur photographer who pulls their camera out of the closet a couple times a year when its vacation time. A true photographer is constantly looking, seeing and capturing life all around themselves. They are not looking for the “convenient” solution, they use the equipment that will result in capturing the story they are trying to tell.
– Edward M. Fielding
Edward M. Fielding is a professional fine art photographer working with Arc Angel Images. His work can be seen on Fine Art America – http://fineartamerica.com/featured/quarter-horse-edward-fielding.html