A photographer is more than their gear...
I get asked all the time what gear I use, specifically what model camera I have. And the next most popular question: which is my “fave” lens?
Y’all, don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely no problem sharing with folks what gear I use. In fact, I asked the same question of other photographers (in my early days) more than once, I am sure. I LOVE my gear - my camera is my baby, no doubt about it.
But here’s the thing. What folks DON’T understand (or even are aware of) is that when posing that question, it conveys a certain message: all that makes a photographer great is his/her gear. The more expensive - or the more high tech - the better. Whether or not this is the intention, or what they’re consciously thinking, this is the message that is communicated. Because for most people, this message makes sense and is SO propagated within the industry these days. There isn’t enough basic education out there for the average Joe that would tell them otherwise.
So here I am, tellin’ ya right now: a photographer is SO much more than their gear. To get even more specific: a professional, quality photographer is so much more than the gear that may or may not be expensive or “high tech.” It is generally true that by the time MOST pro photographers are considered “successful” they have invested in themselves and purchased the higher quality gear. But in NO way does this mean that they got to where they are BECAUSE of that gear. In fact, it is often IN SPITE of the quality of their gear that they got to where they are.
I first started learning photography and gaining experience using my mom’s 10-year-old Canon EOS Rebel. I used that camera for about 2-3 years before “upgrading” to a Canon T3i because that’s all I could afford at the time (I was a college student). I then invested in the cheapest 50mm prime lens I could find (pretty sure I got it off Ebay for maybe $70?). The next few gear purchases I made were in higher quality lenses (still never more expensive than a few hundred bucks) as this is what is advised within the industry. My next big purchase was the Canon 6D Mark II, which was only purchased out of necessity because my T3i was stolen in Hawaii (see other blog post) and that model had been discontinued. That was only 2 years ago. I am about to enter my 9th year of photography.
So I’m sure you get the point. It took me YEARS to develop my skills as a professional photographer - and it had absolutely nothing to do with the quality of my gear. There is so much knowledge and experience of both technology and art that is utilized behind the camera. The gear is meant to COMPLEMENT the photographer, not BE the photographer. To ENHANCE the photography, not MAKE the photography. To make possible what the photographer already has envisioned.
And this probably goes without saying, but buying fancy photo gear doesn’t automatically make you a pro photographer, either. It just ain’t that easy, folks.
Be sure to check in again for a future post that goes more into detail about what DOES make a great photographer and how I learned with what I had...