I’ve been emailed by quite a few people asking very specific questions, going into the micro of details to understand and improve their methods, process and photos. These people that have been asking me questions are intently focusing on the 1% details instead of trying to improve the fundamentals that make up 99% of a photography.
Photography is an interesting medium, subject, profession and hobby. It draws in creatives, storytellers, artists, and commercial endeavours. But photography also attracts the tech nerd, the gadget-obsessed, the collectors and the specs experts. These are the people that are constantly asking me for that special sauce, that piece of gear that will vastly improve their images. Or what they think is missing in their own work. The truth is it’s not my Lightroom settings, it’s not the brand of film I use or the lens that makes my images. It’s me… not the gear.
Gear vs Photographer
Give me a Leica with the 50mm lens I’ll take a photo that looks and fits with my style. Give me a Canon 5D and a 50mm 1.2 and I’ll make a photo that looks like my style. Give me an iPhone x and I’ll make a photo that matches my style. It’s not the gear that makes the photo, its the photographer. If your photos are shit there is a high chance it’s not your gear that’s letting you down, it’s your skills as a photographer.
The funny thing is I don’t tell people my methods or should I say my preset and developing methods down to the drop. One is because I have put a lot of time and energy into developing a look and feel that I would say is uniquely mine (ego speaking here). But more along the facts that if I go out and give my 1% methods away, those spec and 1% detail nerds are going to copy it and learn nothing. They might use those methods for a day, or month or two but then just put it aside because it hasn’t vastly improved there photos like they thought it would.
Great photographs come from photographers that have learned the skill of their craft, not the skill of processing but the skill of using a camera, lighting and directing a subject. Sure processing a photo is part of it, but I would say its a lot easier to make a great photograph look good than a shit photograph look great.
My argument is this, if your a spec, details-obsessed person trying to find that one trick that will vastly improve your work. You will never change and you will never find that holy grail. Because once you find something your soon onto the next thing or trend or gadget. But for those photographers out there working on their craft instead of their camera bag. Stick in there, you will slowly develop and find your own way.
It’s not the oven that makes a great meal, its the chief. And it’s not a camera that makes a great photo, its the photographer.