OPINION: CAMERAHOLICS

A tongue-in-cheek post about Equipment Geeks. Did you know they’ve been around for years? Master photographer Edward Weston (1886-1956) even wrote about them…“the fact is that relatively few photographers ever master their medium. Instead they allow the medium to master them and go on an endless chase from new lens to new gadget, never staying with one piece of equipment long enough to learn its full capacities, becoming lost in a maze of technical information…”

Cameraholics are even more prevalent in 2020, easily recognised by having: 

a) more cameras than they need
b) more knowledge about cameras they don’t own than seems sensible
c) fantasies about extremely expensive pieces of equipment they don’t own.
d) all of the above. 

When cameraholics talk/write about photography, the conversation centres around equipment, not image aesthetics. Never quite satisfied with the equipment already owned, they collect more and more photography gear, convinced that it’s equipment that produces “better” photographs. Yet as Chase Jarvis said, “Skill in photography is acquired by practice not by purchase, the gear you can’t afford is not the barrier keeping you from success…”

Ardmore Round Tower in County Waterford, Ireland: ©George Munday

I guess geeks have never quite figured out that the camera is little more than a tool and the main factor of producing good imagery is whats in front of it – and who’s behind it. I can recall seeing it in action during a workshop when I took two photographers to shoot a round tower located in a picturesque ancient graveyard by the sea.

There was a “Mr Geek” with a rucksack full of DSLR gear, two cameras and 7 prime lens rising in steps from 14mm to 400mm, who immediately began shooting every few paces, constantly switching lens as he circled the tower..

And there was “Mr Minimalist” with one Fuji X-100 with a fixed prime 35mm lens, who circled the tower and just looked. Then returning to a specific spot took out his camera and began to shoot.

Despite the latter’s minimalist gear, it was he brought back the most creative images.

Just in case you’re curious, my equipment consists of a Canon 5D Mk 2 and two lens, 24mm and 105 mm. Along with eyes to see, and legs to get into the best position.

A final word to Edward Steichen… “The use of the term, art medium is, to say the least, misleading, for it is the artist that creates a work of art not the medium. It is the artist in photography that gives form to content by a distillation of ideas, thought, experience, insight and understanding.”

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