There are photographers and there are people that like to take pictures. I saw a special on TV the other day about Annie Leibovitz and it reinforced my beliefs.
She is a “Photographer.” an artist. I wished she shot my wedding!
Unlike a large percentage of people that take pictures, she has a vision. Most people that call themselves photographers, in my opinion, are not. They are people that take pictures. They spend a lot of time on forums talking about what camera is better. They study MTF charts. They always buy the newest and “best” camera. A lot of them even shoot weddings. Scary.
Photography is not about a $7000 camera and $3000 lens. If that were the case then most wedding photographers would be artists shooting a Leica M9 and Summicron 50mm f/1.4. No, photography is about watching and waiting. It’s about being in the moment and pressing that little button at the correct time so your photo will be cried over at someone’s 50th wedding anniversary. It’s real easy to take 4 hours setting up proper lighting to take an amazing photo of a… (INSERT RANDOM OBJECT HERE). It’s not easy to have a vision and see it through.
This is why I love Annie Leibovitz’s work. She might shoot with a $30,000 Leica S2 for one shot, and them grab a glorified point and shoot Fujifilm X100 for another shot. Maybe Canon one day and Leica the next. You see, it does not matter. She uses the best tool for the job. The camera is just the pencil or pen she uses to write her novel of life. She creates. For all I know, she shoots in AUTO mode. Who cares really. Her images are stunning and they make you feel something.
This is how I approach photography. Sure, I need good glass and such for paid jobs. Why? because there are times when you just need a technically good piece of equipment to capture a moment…IN LOW LIGHT. Aside from that, I want my work to tell a story. I don’t care about how I arrived at a shot, just as long as I get there. There takes a certain amount of skill or talent to achieve this goal, sure, but it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Ask yourself this. Who makes the photo? The Photographer or the subjects in the actual image? If you answered the subjects in the actual image then you have just eliminated the tool from the equation and realized the camera just doesn’t matter. It is the person pressing the button…during a moment.
My advice is to learn your camera. The one you have now. Not the one that will be better next month. Learn the camera you have now back and forth. Up and down. Inside and out. Know it so you can get proper exposure anytime and in any light. Then, stop thinking about how to work it. That way, when you are in a position to capture an image of a lifetime, you won’t be fiddling around with a bright and shiny new camera with 45 Billion megapixels that you read about on some forum.
…A great and/or beautiful moment captured slightly grainy and a tad blurry will ALWAYS be better than a perfectly exposed image of something meaningless and boring.