(Yes, that’s my impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger).
‘If I had a camera like you, I’d take photos like that’. ‘I wish I could afford a better camera, my work would improve’. ‘Your camera must be really good to take such great pictures!’
Don’t believe what you’re told by the people who want to sell you cameras and camera gear. A new camera isn’t going to turn you (or me) into David Bailey. It’s not even going to turn you into his second cousin, twice removed. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that an expensive, complex camera in uneducated hands will result in far WORSE images. Think you’ll be a better driver because you get a Ferrari? Nope, you’re just going to find yourself wrapped around the nearest tree after about five minutes.
Going back about seventeen or eighteen years, before we all had fancy phone cameras, I used to carry around a little beast called the Olympus C-860L. It proudly boasted a 36mm equivalent fixed lens with a 2x digital zoom, a trailblazing 1.8 inch LCD screen on the back, and a whopping 1.3 million pixels. Powered by four AA batteries (which lasted forever), it had just three stops, f/2.8, f/5.6 or f/11, which kept things nice and simple. Added to that, it had a sliding door across the lens, which not only protected that precious area of my camera, it also meant that – whoosh! – open up the sliding door and you’re ready to go.
Let’s take a look at this wondrous piece of machinery.
Awesome, huh? By the way, this isn’t mine. I can’t remember what happened to it… it probably eventually got scared and ran away. That camera took a LOT of beating up. I used to use it to photograph boozy parties I went to (back in the days when this was a regular occurrence) so it had to be made of stern stuff. I flipping loved that camera. It captured so many moments from my life then, and it never let me down. Do you hear me? NEVER. It was the easiest thing in the world to operate and it hit focus like a dream. This is naturally important if you’re a bit drunk when you’re trying to get your Annie Leibowitz on, of course.
So what’s the point of my trip down Memory Lane? Well, it’s this. Of course, that camera would never be up to professional standards, even then, but what if I’d rocked up to those parties with the top spec camera of the day? Would it have created better images for me? Unlikely, I’d say, because I wasn’t interested in working with a fast shutter in low light, or creating the most pleasing skin tones. I was interested in capturing The Moment. And moving forward to today, my wedding photography is still the same; it’s all about those moments. Of course, when I’m shooting a wedding I want to ensure that I’m providing the best quality images possible for my clients, which is why I work with three Fuji X-Series cameras which create incredible images at high ISO and are paired with superb quality glass on the front. That’s a given. But I’m not suddenly going to become better at capturing those moments if I won the lottery and went Fuji GFX medium format.
Create the best images you can with the equipment you have and stop worrying that Photographer B over there has a better camera than you. Uncle Bob at the wedding you’re shooting, is he creating better images than you with his massive DSLR he’s hoiking about? Nah, of course he’s not (unless he’s a professional wedding photographer in disguise, in which case, he needs to learn to enjoy a wedding when he’s a guest). Learn what your equipment does, and learn it well. THAT’S the secret of creating great images.
Are you wondering what epic shots I created with my trusty Olympus C-860L? It doesn’t get better than the fancypants image I’m showing off at the top of this blog post, does it? Ok, fair enough, this one isn’t going to win any awards. But The Moment is everything, and my little camera did me proud.