One of my mantras when it comes to photography is that equipment doesn’t matter. Yes, if you are studying microorganisms, needless to say, you cannot photograph those small creatures with your cell phone. But for 90 percent of what most of us are photographing, equipment doesn’t matter.
I say it’s my mantra, but of course, most photographers who are interested in imagery rather than technique would say the same. It’s possibly an acquired truth for most, I think. I, myself, certainly started out as a photographer being more concerned about the technical aspect of photography than the visual result. Back in the days of film, for instance, I did change my favourite brand of film depending on how I thought it would render whatever I captured and not the least the quality of the grains, the colours and its stability. Also then, only the best camera was good enough—at least as soon as I could afford to buy high-end equipment.
Today, though, I look more to functionality and usages than to technical quality and theoretical performance of my equipment. Anything that works, works! I don’t care if it’s a cell phone, a compact camera or a big professional camera. Well, actually, I do, I try to avoid the big professional camera these days, simply because it’s too big and bulky and burdensome. Take the photo that accompanies this post, a street photo captured in Cuba. It could have been taken with any of the above-mentioned cameras.
These days I might even be slow to adapt to new and «revolutionary» equipment, gadgets or software that—according to their manufactures—are suppose to be game-changers. I am sceptical at the outset, I just simply don’t believe whatever they claim that is new and fantastic is going to make me a better photographer.
Did I say these days? I guess it’s been longer than that. When autofocus was first introduced, I saw no point in it at all. I believed it wouldn’t make me faster compared to how I handled manual focus. Not exactly recently, this most have been back in the 90’s… My thought was that manually I could focus anywhere on the screen. Particularly when the main object is not in the centre of the frame it made me faster compared to autofocus—at least that’s what I believed. With autofocus, I would first have to pre-focus and then reframe the subject before taking the photo. Only when Canon introduced eye-tracking coupled with an array of focus points did it make sense to make the change for me. The functionality, which was introduced with Canon Eos 5(the pre-digital version) and refined with Canon Eos 3, was discontinued with these models, however. But it made me change to autofocus.
I have a built-in resistance, I believe, when something is suppose to change the world to the better. Another example is digital photography. For a long time I did not make the change from film to digital, simply because I thought it wouldn’t make the quality of my photos any better. For a long time, rather the opposite, as a matter of fact. Instead I used film, scanned them and then sent the image files to my clients. My first digital camera I acquired as late as in 2004. (On the other hand, I was actually quick to start using Photoshop. I believe my first version was Photoshop 2.0).
I was slow to take up Instagram, too, something of more recent years. I am not saying this because I don’t believe in development and new ideas. However, sometimes I wait until I see the value of spending time with yet another hype (not that Instagram is a hype, though) or maybe to make sure it’s not a hype and it may actually make me take different or better pictures. I don’t think I am slow by nature, because when I do commit myself to new technology I am very fast to dig deep into it and try to master whatever it is I am learning or adapting to as fast as possible. In the end, the point is I’d rather spend time developing my creative skills and my way of seeing, instead jumping on to any gadget that is suppose to and maybe can make me a better photographer. As I started out saying, equipment, in which is included software and apps, doesn’t really matter. This much said, though, the other side of the coin, however, is that many new gadgets or whatever new comes into the realm of photography, encourage us to be more playful, which of course is great.
How do you see the «brave new world»? Do you jump onto new things right away? Do you wait? Do you care at all?
Facts about the photo: The photo from Cuba was taken with a Canon Eos 5D with a 24-105 mm lens, set at 24 mm. Shutter speed: 1/125 of a second. Aperture: f/4.0. The photo was processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.