It Isn't the Equipment, Really

January 31, 2017

Originally posted Nov 1, 2011

Whenever a person compliments me on a particular photo, I’ll often respond with a self-effacing, “It isn’t me; it’s the equipment.”

But really, it isn’t the equipment, and in contrast to some other photographers’ websites, you won’t find a link here entitled, “my equipment” or “what’s in the bag” etc. That’s because, in truth, that stuff isn’t really that important.

Almost every photographer has been asked by some one admiring his or her work, “What kind of camera do you use?” It’s a legitimate question from an individual contemplating a camera purchase and wanting to compare results by brand. On the other hand, if they are thinking that by duplicating an excellent photographer’s equipment, they’ll also be excellent – forget it. Doesn’t work that way.

The truth is that any of the quality cameras on the market, in these days of computer-aided design, will take a good picture if aimed and operated correctly. Nobody ever asks a successful writer what kind of word processor they use.

True, there is an equipment fetish that goes with serious photography, and I plead totally guilty to being a worshipper. But I hope I’m honest enough to admit that I breathlessly await each of Nikon’s new offerings simply because that new gear is so cool, elegant, and even smells good; not because I truly believe the new stuff will make me a better photographer. Depending on what you seek to accomplish photographically, there are certain pieces of gear you want to have in your inventory. When I decided I wanted to seriously pursue wildlife photography, I sold a pretty nice pickup to finance an upgrade of my camera body as well as the acquisition of a 500mm f.4 telephoto lens. That’s because you can wait forever for the deer and the antelope…especially the antelope…to come to you. But, if you want effective pictures of most wildlife, you have to be prepared to optically reach way, way out and touch them. And that does take some specialized equipment, but the brand of that equipment is of little to no consequence.

That said, the best camera is always going to be the one you have with you when an engaging photo presents itself. As the saying goes, “The important thing is f.8 and be there.”

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