Why it’s not about the camera
Often you hear me say that good photography is not about the camera. Despite what we hear from camera makers, advertising and instructors who are sponsored by camera makers, creating great photos has little to do with what kind of camera you have.
Since photography was ‘invented’ in the 1820s every camera ever made is pretty much the same. They are all just boxes that can capture light. What makes them different is often small and specific. Take cars as an example. Cars are all pretty much the same, even a Tesla (sorry ElonJ). They all have wheels, most often 4. They have an engine that turns the wheels and they have a wheel so you can steer it and brakes so you can stop it. The difference is that some have leather seats and heated steering wheels. Some go faster and carry more people. Some are made to carry things and others are meant to take into the woods and drive over big holes and climb hills. But, all in all they are all just boxes with wheels and an engine and brakes. Cameras are the same.
All cameras are just boxes with holes in them. They have a hole that lets the light in and lets you control the volume of light with a thing called an aperture. They all have a shutter that lets you control the speed the light gets in the box. What makes the difference is the features. Some can take more pictures per second. Others can capture the ‘full’ picture and others have a bigger sensor and can make bigger, higher resolution pictures. Some have extra ‘gimmicks’ like eye tracking and HDR and other little features- mostly buttons and more menus. Despite a few features they are all pretty much the same- a box with a hole in it.
Throughout the history of photography, the best- most famous photographers-have used simple cameras. Cartier- Bresson, Adams, Meier, Muybridge, Lange, McCurry and Leibovitz- they all used simple cameras. Yes, many of the cameras of the day were simpler but all the famous photographers kept the same cameras for years. Years. They bought new lenses- new ways of seeing the world -but the way they got better- the way they created better and better work that made them even more famous was to shoot great visual stories. They got better at seeing great stories. They bought new lenses and got better at using lighting and shutter and aperture to tell those great stories. But the real way they became famous photographers was because they used the same camera- got to know it intimately and got really creative. They creatively used what their good friend; their camera could do to tell the story photographically- what the shutter or aperture, metering or lens could to tell the interesting story in an interesting way. They cared a lot about what they saw and a lot less about what the camera could do- even if it did have leather seats.
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