“OMG...that photo is amazing! What camera do you use?!”
This is a phrase I hear all the time, as I’m sure you do too… and as a photographer (a creative, an artist…) the way we take and edit a photo is uniquely ours. Our style, our composition, our colors, our creativity, our expression.
Asking a photographer what camera they use is similar to asking a chef what knives he uses.
The knives are a tool. Our cameras are a tool too. Just as sharp knives are going to make the cooking process a lot easier and more efficient, a good camera will perform better in low light, the photos will be better quality and you can play with more options while you are editing.
But a chef can still cook delicious dishes if he is using a blunt knife. It actually doesn’t matter what kind of camera you have… Nikon, Canon, Sony, iPhone… just use the tools you have. Some of the most talented creatives I know have filmed entire films with an iPhone or with a $200 camera.
Many times I’ll be out and about without all my heavy camera gear, and when an opportunity arises, I’ll just snap a few pics with my iPhone. Everyone has a phone with a camera - it’s so easy! Here are some of my iPhone snaps, throughout this post.
Now, I’m not trying to say that phone photography is BETTER than using a DSLR, (coz, it’s not, and it really depends on what you’re shooting…), just that you CAN also get beautiful pictures with your phone (or cheap DSLR camera). It’s totally possible!
The camera is merely a tool for you to learn with. Hone in on your skills with what you have, then as you get better and learn more, you’ll discover the limitations.
For example, you may be learning that you love taking portraits of people; but the lens you have doesn’t give you a lovely blurry background. Time to upgrade to a 50mm f1.4!
Or you may discover that you love wildlife photography (if this is you, let me know and let’s hang out!) but your 24-70 lens just doesn’t cut it. Time to buy a 70-200! Or 400mm lens!
Or you may LOVE landscapes and want to take some milky waterfalls. Time to buy a wide lens and a variable ND filter!
And if you have no idea what I was just on about… then use your phone camera!
Now, I know this titled “Why you should never ask a photographer what camera they use” but actually, this is a perfectly valid question to ask if you are a gear junkie (or if you’re becoming one). I just needed a catchy headline so you would stop and read/watch this! (Bahaha… it worked, didn’t it?!).
I’ve asked this question plenty of times, but it’s not after seeing someone’s photos and immediately assuming it was the CAMERA that made the photo look so good. I know it’s a combination of the photographer’s skill and experience, their lighting, the subject, the location, the time of day, which lenses they used and their totally unique editing style.
I ask this question when I’m curious about how their camera performs in different situations (e.g low light music photography (go, Sony!) or when I want to find out which camera is better with depth of field (yay, Canon), or which kit would be best to take outdoors on a weekend hike up a mountain (definitely go mirrorless, and don’t break your back with the weight of your backpack!)
So in conclusion, remember that the camera is a tool, and the photographer is the creative genius using it. Start learning with what you have, and go from there. Happy shooting!
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This is Joyce Ong's personal website featuring her work as a photographer. If you're looking for her video production work with New Heights Media, please visit: www.newheightsmedia.com.au