A Camera is only a Tool

October 28, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

 

I lost count on how many times I’m approached by individuals who look at my camera/lens setup and say “you must be able to take great pictures with that camera.” Honestly, the quality of the camera and size of the lens really has little to do with the quality of the image. The camera and lens are just tools.

Back in the early 1980s, I worked at two photographic labs while putting myself through the University of Alaska Fairbanks. One was in the Elmer. E. Rasmuson Library. It was directed by Richard Veazy, a great guy who taught me a lot about photography.

A fellow “student” employee and I used to comment that we could take better pictures if only we had better cameras. “A camera is only a tool,” replied Richard emphatically. “Is an expensive wrench better than a less expensive wrench of the same size? The important thing is knowing how to use that tool.”

While our comments were meant in jest, Rich was right. A camera is only a tool a photographer uses to create art, much like a painter uses a paintbrush, a sculpture a chisel, or a glass artist a furnace and blowpipe. It is the skill of the artist (or craftsperson) using those tools that create the art. Your present camera may limit the subject matter, but buying a more expensive camera or bigger lens won’t make you a better photographer. Learning what makes a good photograph will help you use the tools you have to make a better photograph.

There is another benefit to learning what goes into making a good photograph. It will help you decided if you need better equipment and help guide your purchase.

This is only the beginning. Later blog entries will discuss everything from how and where to sign your prints, to demystifying the exposure triangle, and tricks to keep that horizon straight.

 

PS: This is my first blog entry for my website, so it is as much of an experiment in discovering how it works as it is the beginning of a conversation with new and experienced photographers.


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