If you’re not talented, your work will still appear uninspired.
I have a lot of camera gear (relatively), but all that doesn’t matter if I don’t know how to make use of it properly. Think about it, camera have come a long way since the early days of photography. There was the development of Single Lens Reflex, improved darkroom techniques, digital sensors etc. How is it that we still don’t have a photographer as highly regarded as Ansel Adams. There are photographers who hike out to the exact GPS co-ordinates of Ansel Adams’ photos in an attempt to replicate the image. They now have much improved gear, likely professional SLR’s and medium format cameras (Hasselblad). Theoretically, these “adaptations” should be better. In reality, they lack the type of emotion and impact that the original photographs held.
Buying Air Jordans won’t make you play like Mike, an expensive piano doesn’t make you a great pianist, a Waterman fountain pen won’t turn you into Robert Frost. In the same way, an expensive camera and an impressive array of lenses will not automatically turn you into a great photographer.
In contrast, give a great artist a familiar instrument of any grade and they will be able to create something beautiful. Give Nathaniel Anthony Ayers (schizophrenic homeless musician) a beaten down 2-stringed violin and he will make sweet music. Take away LeBron’s sneakers and replace them with Chuck Taylors and he will still posterize you so bad your own mother will be ashamed to look at you. For photographers, here’s something easier to relate to, Chase Jarvis and his iPhone. You get the idea.
Ken Rockwell once said, the word image, comes from the work imagination … not “lens sharpness” or “low noise levels”. No imagination = no image. “The most important component of a camera is the 12 inches behind it” Ansel Adams.
But there HAS to be a reason why the pros use the best gear right?
Sure, but only for limited reasons:
– Good gear makes it easier to get the results you want
– Good gear will be more durable, you’ll need this if you thrash your gear on a daily basis
– It may be more convenient (again, easier)
Notice how I mentioned YOU in those points. At the end of the day it’ll all come down to you as the artist. Don’t ever start thinking that it was the gear that made your artworks. YOU did it.
I went rally driving today, in a real rally car on a rally track. I know how to drive, you push the pedal and turn the wheel and avoid killing yourself. The rally car had much higher performance than my everyday car, more grip, more torque, bucket seats, Momo steering wheel. In the briefing, my instructor focussed on steering technique, braking and throttle timing, and that sometimes less is more. On my first lap I was crap, I was slow, the car was sliding everywhere and I was shitting myself. A couple of laps later I got a lot better and a lot more confident. Having a sweet ride tuned for the conditions didn’t automatically make me a rally driver, just like having a sweet camera won’t make you a photographer.
Barry White once said “Too much of anything is not good for you”. Sometimes the easiest way to get a crap shot is to have too much gear.