When you’ve been blogging about photography for a while, you’ll come across a lot of questions from beginners. “How did you take that photo?”, sadly, isn’t the top question I’m asked. Instead, people try to take shortcuts, and the first step of taking that shortcut is asking me what photography equipment I’m using.
It’s flattering when people ask, but just like you wouldn’t ask James Patterson, Harlan Coben or John Sandford what word processing software they use, or dig into the past to find out what brushes Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning or Gustav Klimt used, asking a photographer what equipment they used to take a particular photo is, in itself, insulting. The implication that you could paint as well as Rembrandt if you only had his canvasses and brushes is absurd — and the same goes for photography.
Let me be the first to tell you this: You don’t need expensive photography equipment to take fantastic photos. Take the Canon EOS 1000D, for example. It’s the cheapest SLR camera Canon ever made. A quick search on Flickr shows that there’s dozens of photos taken with that camera that are far better than I’ve ever taken.
The same is true for the Nikon camp — you can pick up a Nikon D3000 for under £300 these days, but cast thine eyes at Fullerton or Ant Nightmare, and it quickly becomes clear that, in the right hands, even the simplest of digital SLRs can be used to capture fantastic photos.
Try it yourself; head to the Flickr camera finder, find your own camera, and see what people have achieved with it. I’m willing to bet that you’ll be surprised (whether that is because one of your own photos is being shown, or because the results are so astonishing).
The point we’re making is that photographers need to get off their desire to buy the newest and greatest kit. You’ll recall, for example, the fashion shoot F-stoppers did using only an iPhone camera…with magnificent results.
If you’re going to invest in anything, invest time in your own photography skills. Start following some online tutorials (here are 250 of ‘em to get you started); sign up for a class, or put together a small circle of friends and set yourself some challenges.
You don’t become a better driver by buying yourself a flashy car, and you don’t become a better photographer by buying a top-shelf camera.
Haje Jan Kamps is a prolific photography blogger who has written a small stack of books about photography. He also developed the Triggertrap camera trigger and has been known to travel the world a bit. If you’re of the tweeting kind, try him on @Photocritic!