For the Sake of Argument

Funny enough, the whole “it’s not the camera that makes the photographer” saying is coming back with a vengeance lately. I’m not quite sure why to be honest. I hear more and more of my friends, talking about switching to this and that with a blink of an eye, the sprint towards eleventy billion megapixels is once again happening, announcements of stupendous equipment makes your ears buzz with excitement (or whatever that is, depending on how interested you are). But, still. The camera doesn’t make the photographer. Buying a Nikon/Canon, doesn’t make you a professional photographer either, it makes you a Nikon/Canon owner. What you do with your camera makes you who you are.

Most of you know that I work with a pretty basic Sony a450, a camera that has been working extremely well, a camera that has proven in more than one occasion that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on equipment to make sure you’ll get the right shot (in my opinion) and/or a reaction from the “audience”. As long as people like or hate what you do, it’s the exact reaction you were looking for. Of course, we all long for the appreciation of our work, but any reaction is better than none whatsoever.

A photographer, the way I see it, is a random guy, with whatever camera he got his hands on, thinking for at least a few seconds about what he’s about to shoot. How many times have we all seen someone with a big bad camera, shooting just for the sake of pressing the shutter? I now have four different cameras, three of them are “ancient” 35mm film ones.  They will probably come up with “damaged” shots in the end, but that’s precisely why I decided to start using these cameras. I’m not looking for some “lomo style” photography, I’m looking for a way back to the roots of what I love doing. I use a basic and good enough camera, that does what I ask it to do, when I ask it to, and (most of the time) how I ask it to. I’m no genius, I live and learn. I read, I watch, I try to get inspired by the photographers I like, whoever these photographers are. I took professional classes, I shot over twenty thousand shots in less than two years, I’ve kept 7% of these shots. I would keep even less if I wasn’t such a crybaby about souvenirs. I get tougher and tougher about my work, skimming it down to sometimes 2%. That’s how you learn, that’s how you get your eyes and mind used to it. That’s how you try to get better. And by coming back to film, I also come back to something some don’t consider anymore, taking time.

Stop, look around, experience your surroundings, know your options, and then shoot. There’s never just one side of the iceberg.  And you don’t even need a camera to do that. Sometimes, when I don’t have my camera with me, I sit down and look around, think about what I would have done if I had my camera with me at that time. At some point, no matter what you do, you’ll end up thinking in a photographic way, no matter what you do. And that’s exactly what I was hoping for two years ago, when I decided to get serious about it.

I’m not giving lessons as I’m not a teacher. I’m not preaching nor am I lecturing. I’m just saying how I work, how I see what I do.

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2 thoughts on “For the Sake of Argument

  1. Hi Filip,

    I feel the same way you do. Just get the equipment you afford and make the best out of it. Only when you reach its limits try to upgrade your equipment if the upgrade is sustainable.
    Here is a graph I really like 🙂 about us the photographers, and I can confirm being there, doing that: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/861087
    Some are passing through these stages faster, some remain stuck… I don’t know where I am but most of the time I feel like I have way too much equipment and you know better that I have stripped my collection of equipment.

    Anyway… lately I am going to a photo-club where we talk…whatever we like. Most of the time we do is about equipment, what’s new and old and how much everybody wants a bigger piece of it. Most of us don’t even know the specs of the equipment but we really want it. That’s stupid!

    Another example:
    While making a “Behind the Scene” article related to one of my last photo sessions posted on the blog a member of the above described photo club asked me about the equipment I have used. I described him exactly what I did and he told me: “It’s not true!” Imagine I am the one who took the photos and you tell me it’s not true … He insinuated I have used at least 3 times lightning equipment and kept on going because this is how he saw it was done. He only thought about tons and tons of equipment because that’s how he saw it was done on the web or wherever he gets informed.
    The real truth is that by having eyes only for the PRO successful photographers that have tons of equipment because they NEED, USE and AFFORD it, you end up believing that that’s the standard and only that equipment will give you the best results. FALSE!
    Try to think out of the box and you could save a few thousands LEI, EUROS, $$$ and time working for it! Only a fraction of that money invested in photography education puts you on the right track towards understand light. “It’s all about Vision, Light!” After that all you have to do is experiment, and then buy if needed.
    I am not a GURU but at least I am struggling to understand light, to see the results in my mind before I waste another ‘CLICK’ on my camera.

    P.S.: I had to write this even if it is more like a monologue and also because I can’t do it on my blog. It would be too obvious to shout out loud: “You are so, very dumb and stuck! Get over it! Start using the 99% of your brain otherwise let go to the 1% you use because that’s useless too and you consume calories on it. You would live cheaper if you give the 1% up and you would not waste so much money on food!”

    “Now I’m cool!”

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