If you show your photography to enough people, you’re bound to hear the same exclamation more than once: “You must have a really nice camera!” While I know it’s not intended to be an insult, I’m always offended by that seven-word sentence.
We are a photography gear news and reviews website. We know all too well that the quality of the gear you use in photography can certainly make a tangible difference in image making. A camera with a fast burst rate and an advanced AF system may mean the difference between capturing an optimally-timed, in-focus moment or something much less memorable. A high resolution DSLR paired with a pro grade lens can enable a photographer to produce beautifully detailed, high resolution prints that may not have appeared as striking if taken with a lower resolution camera and a lower grade consumer lens. But notice I said “can enable” in the previous sentence; I did not say “will enable.” Those are the tools and should not be mistaken with the foresight and experience required to get the most out of them.
At the end of the day, a great image is created when a photographer uses whatever gear is at hand to make his or her creative vision come to life. If you were to hand a Canon EOS 1D X Mark II and an EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM to a novice photographer, they’re simply not going to create compelling imagery on a consistent basis compared to a pro photographer. The experience gained over years of trying, failing and trying again allows for the seasoned photographer to get the most out of the gear and a given situation.
That’s why I cringe every time someone says, “You must have a really nice camera!” That one short sentence negates a photographer’s time, effort, energy and vision and instead gives all the credit to the tool. In short, the phrase devalues all of our work. It’s like telling saying…
- To a chef: “That was an excellent meal. You must have a really nice oven!”
- To a sketch artist: “That is a very life-like drawing. You must have really nice pencils!”
- To a music artist: “That was an amazing melody! You must have a really nice piano!”
- To a sculptor: “That’s an incredible sculpture. You must have really nice chisels!”
- To a writer: “That’s a beautiful story. You must have a really nice (laptop/typewriter/notepad)!”
- And so on, and so on…
So the next time you hear, “You must have a really nice camera,” please take 30 seconds to explain to the person what went into creating your image. Explain what lens and filters (if applicable) you used, why you chose your specific exposure settings and how your planning affected the resulting image. The brief explanation may help the viewer understand the biggest differentiating factor in your photography – you.
Does the phrase irk anyone else as much as it does me? Do you have a specific technique for dealing with it? Sound off in the comments.