The Camera Doesn’t Do It; You Do It

Cheap Camera Photo

This photo of Erin was taken with an Olympus E-500 camera, which back in its day only cost about $500.

I’m often been asked about different camera makes and models, and usually my first response is, “I only know the camera I use, or have used.” Then I follow with even though I’ve authored photography books, written articles for photography magazines, etc., the camera companies don’t send me every make and model they produce—I wish they would, but they don’t. I’m lucky to get one camera to try out each year, but hey, if you work for Hasselblad, Canon, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, Nikon, or any camera company for that matter, I’m open-minded to try your products out.

OK, you didn’t come here to learn about my problems, so here is some advice I can give you about cameras, “A camera is only as good as its photographer, or the operator of the capture device.” Think about this for a minute. Does a keyboard write novels? Does a guitar strum rhythm or take lead on its own? Does an oven cook gourmet meals? Obviously the answer is no to all the questions because just like cameras, they are all the tools of their craft and all require human interaction in some form to produce the best they can possibly produce.

Now that those questions are grounded, let’s get back to what usually follows that first camera question, “Which camera should I buy? This one costs more, so should I go for it because it’s a better? Or should I go for the cheaper one and sacrifice in my photography?”

Well the best answer is that it’s about using the right tool for the right result as it’s the photographer that will make the difference in the end, not the camera make and model. Sure, some cameras make it easier than others, but in the end, if you know what you’re trying to achieve in photography, most cameras, regardless how much you paid for them, can get the job done. Yes, there are some cameras that do it better than others, but that’s only if you know how to “do” vs. you think, “you do.”

iPhone Photo

This photo of Alex was taken with an iPhone 3. Can you image what it would look like with a current iPhone? It probably would be close with only a larger file size and resolution.

The camera doesn’t make the photograph; the photographer creates it with their photographic tools, their knowledge (comprehension), their artistic abilities (creativity), and their ability to communicate (communication) not only to the subject, if there is a live subject being photographed, but also to their audience. I call it the three “C’s” that make a great photographer and have written about it in my photography books, blogs, and even magazine articles; Three Elements of Great Photographers.

Leica Camera Photo

This photo of Jessi created with a Leica R9 with digital back attached, back in its day, about $9,000, just the camera body with the digital back.

So in essence, while there are specific cameras, and camera gear, for specific necessities in photography, the price only impacts quality of the product, not necessarily the final image—it’s the photographer that makes the real difference; as they say, typewriters don’t write novels, writers do, no more than guitars don’t create natural harmonics, musicians do.

Now if you really want to get great at being able to take any camera, from your smart phone to one of the new mirrorless cameras that are kicking DSLR’s butts, then all you have to do is get proficient in photography and take photos every chance you get. Take the military approach, train, practice, and exercise what you learn. You only get better with usage and absorbing knowledge of your craft.

Not sure how to do this, or need help? Well I’ll close with the answer, join us at one of our photography workshops or better yet, be one of the inner-circle five and join us this year with our photography mentorship program, I’ll guarantee you’ll be able to capture great images with just about any camera, no matter what it costs, in the end. Like always, I just ask for one thing, please don’t forget the men and women who proudly serve to protect our freedoms; God Bless them, their families and friends, Rolando.

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