When I was young chap and learning my craft, I used to think that I never had the right ‘gear’ to create the kind of pictures that I wanted to. They never had quite the right ‘feel’ or looked anywhere near as professional as those of….the professionals!
I always used to believe that if I just had the right equipment my problems would be solved and I would pore enviously over the adverts in the back of the Amateur Photographer magazine every week dreaming of owning a 600mm with a teleconverter, a top of the range Nikon body, a super duper flashgun and the list rolled endlessly on. In an effort to appear more ‘professional’ and thus up my status in the ranks of photographers, I went out and bought a Billingham bag to carry all my (imaginary) soon to be acquired gear.
It was a nice bag for sure and drew a few admiring glances but they soon disappeared when I opened it up, whipped out my Fujica ST605 complete with a Vivitar 70-210mm lens and a packet of ham sandwiches (made with crusty bread)! Hey, I just couldn’t afford to buy new shiny toys. Thinking about it though, the bag actually cost a small fortune….
It took me a while to learn, but I did, that big flash shiny toys does not a great picture make. Fair enough, technically a picture might be ‘better’ but really, what is a photograph about if it’s not about the content and whether the content of your photo has the ability to move the viewer on some level?
It came home to me when I was offered the chance to exhibit my work when I was about 18 or so. I couldn’t believe my luck to be honest. Surely the organisers and certainly the viewers would realise that they hadn’t been taken with top of the line equipment and I would be exposed as a fraud, an imposter. Truthfully, I almost turned the exhibition down because I was embarrassed! My missus (girlfriend at the time) squared me up and told me to stop whining, grow a pair and get on with it. Wise woman my missus (and a pretty mean photographer herself).
I had to cobble together some 50 odd images of all varying sizes, some colour, some black and white and I had to work like a maniac to meet the deadline.
When I saw them hanging on the walls I still looked at them and wondered if I would have done better with a ‘better’ camera than my Fuji. I guess that’s what we do. But, as I mingled anonymously among the guests not once did anybody question what camera or lens they were taken with. Not once.
It was then I realised that the viewer of my work doesn’t really give a flying fig about what I used to create my image. They don’t really care about whether Nikon is better than Fuji or whether I used a prime or zoom lens. They care about what they see. That’s it.
After that, I started to actually read the articles in the magazines and not the adverts. I set out to become a better photographer, not a gear collector.
So my friends, don’t waste your time coveting the next best thing. It doesn’t really matter because as soon as the next best thing is in the shops, the next, next best thing will be out two months later.
Get on with what you’ve got and learn your craft. Sharpen your skills, your knowledge and most importantly, develop your eye. Your ‘eye’ is the most important tool in your box and you can do that with any camera. Go take photos. Many photos.