I had a little chat with a photographer friend of mine the other day and it basically confirmed something I have thought for a long while. That is, there are basically two types of photographers. We all photograph different things and we all seem to derive a lot of pleasure photographing. It’s a process that we all enjoy. I hear it’s the world’s most popular hobby. At the most basic level, though, we have two types of photographers in my opinion.
- Those that are completely equipment oriented almost to the point of snobery. A more polite way of viewing these people might be to call them equipment affecionatos. And then…
- The other kind of photographer who is more concerned with image and the final product. You know, the kind of photographer who sees his equipment as a means to an end.
I think all us photographers love our equipment while always wishing for something more. Marketing firms have joined with the big boys and come at us with such terms as Sony Artisan, Olympus Visionary or the worst one yet – Become a Pentaxian. Wow, Mr. Fine Art photographer here we come. Well that’s all marketing and we can’t get away from it.
Adobe’s big thing is to be an Adobe Evangelist. Well, that’s alright. Let them call us what they will. Or let them be who they are. It’s the world of advertising and you got to take it at face value. Honestly, we as photographers all love our equipment. Some love it more than others. I think the term Camera Buff applies. For some (Camera buffs) the photographic process is more about holding that fine camera in your hands, feeling the weight and precision, sound of the shutter, gleam of the glass and precision of focus. Fine cameras are wonders of technology. They are precise and seductive – capable and full of opportunity. Camera buffs talk about the latest sensor abilities, newest processor, those astronomical ISO ratings, lens sharpness ratings, burst rates, dynamic range, system accessories and the sweet sound of their shutter. Often lovers of their cameras don’t let you forget that their camera is all that, and more – oh yes...
Personally, that is a description of me a few years back. I couldn’t get enough of the latest camera and lens. I believe I’ve been a significant contributor to the coffers of Nikon and even Canon over these years I’ve been calling myself a photographer. I still want the latest gear. I view B&H photo listings on a regular basis. It’s a condition I’ve mentioned before and something my friend Eric calls G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome).
It’s a very real condition. Really, it’s part of the fun of photography. A very big draw for sure. However, it is honestly a little tedious to talk to someone who calls themselves a photographer – to talk to them about photography (Itself) and only be met with how wonderful their camera is and what it can do, how much it cost, who has it for however much and when the next upgrade is coming out. It always reminds me of the guy who buys the finest guitar, knows everything about it but doesn’t take playing it seriously. You gotta play. You have to create. You have to put meaningful photos on the wall or in a book, a card – something! There has to be an end result that represents the outcome of one’s knowledge, passion, vision, hard work and camera output. Equipment as a means to an end is what it’s about for me.
I just keep trying to produce the best images that I can. It’s the end result that counts for me. And photography is a much bigger thing than just owning the finest camera gear. It’s all about producing an image, sharing that image, viewing others work and continuous learning. Spend money on books and travel. Make big prints. Go to museums. Find a group of people truly passionate about photography vs. that photographer friend who’s really all about his camera gear and forget the rest. Be passionate about the art of photography. Keep in flight. And most of all… Enjoy!