The camera doesn’t matter, and that a good photographer can take excellent images with the most basic of picture taking equipment,
- 1 The camera doesn’t matter, and that a good photographer can take excellent images with the most basic of picture taking equipment,
A famous person once wrote an article claiming that the camera doesn’t matter, and that a good photographer can take excellent images with the most basic of picture taking equipment, such as a disposable point-and-shoot.
Then the website Luminous Landscape printed this loaded response, claiming that the camera is the cornerstone of good photography, and that to get good images you need the best possible gear.
Now, these two gentlemen are excellent columnist, and they doubtlessly know a great deal about photography. I normally value their opinions and I have often referenced them on this site, but on this particular occasion, I do feel that they have both absolutely missed the point.
Both have taken radically extreme points of view, and as is invariable the case with radical extremism, it divides the world into black and white and ignores the infinite ocean of colors in between.
The Luminous Landscape piece beautifully illustrates the fact that you cannot take a picture without a camera and a lens, but it completely ignores the obvious. It makes no mention that the camera cannot take an image without a photographer.
The camera is a tool. Nothing more, nothing less. It is a means to an end. It is a piece of equipment used by photographers to capture what they see and to communicate their inner thoughts by the way they see and interpret the world around them.
As it was so eloquently put in our own forums, the word image derives from the same stem as the word imagination, and the imagination is indeed the birthplace of nearly every image worth taking.
To get a good picture
To get a good picture, the photographer needs to first ‘see’ that picture, he needs to be able to visualize exactly what he wants, and then plan how he intends to get it.
Sure, we have all taken the accidental masterpiece, where we fired the shutter unintentionally and were blessed by a perfect composition, but this is by far the exception, not the rule.
Think of Michelangelo for a moment, who would start with massive block of granite, and after imagining what he wants from it, set about with a hammer and a chisel to turn it into the statue of David.
Without first imagining it, he would never be able to create that unique beacon of perfection.
But neither would he be able to create it without that simple hammer and chisel.
And sure, he might be able to mold a much better sculpture with a dull chisel and a broken hammer than I ever could with the best tools in the world, you can be sure that he would always use the best equipment that he could lay his hands on.
And why is that? It is because, as a master of his art, he would know that the best possible equipment which is best suited to the job at hand will allow him to operate at the peak of his ability.
It is just the same with photography.
A master will of course be able to get more from a point-and-shoot than a novice would from a Hasselblad, but if the master wants to perform at the peak of his ability, he will pick the perfect tool for the job. If a large format camera is called for, he’ll use one, if a 50mm lens is required, it will be to hand, if a red filter is needed, you can bet your favorite lens cap he’ll slip it on before he takes the shot.
So, in conclusion, I offer these two thoughts: to become a master of photography, you have to master both the art of seeing, and the craft of handling and knowing the equipment; and just as we cannot take pictures without our cameras, our cameras cannot take pictures without us.
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