the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur (plonq) wrote,
the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur

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It doesn't matter except when it matters

There is a sentiment that I see expressed in some photography forums that rubs me the wrong way. Actually, there are two sentiments that annoy me.

The first is a comment that photographers (rightly) rankle over: "Wow, you take great pictures. You must have a really good camera!"

I have been on the receiving end of those, and I try not to let them bother me because I know the person means it as a compliment. When you think about it though, the sentiment is a bit insulting, because the person is crediting your camera for the pictures, rather than your eye and timing. This same person would probably not make a similar comment to the host after a delicious meal. "Wow, that food was wonderful! You must have a really good stove."

On the other side of the coin though is the sentiment that goes, "The best camera is the one in your hand." On the surface, this makes sense. It is better to have a camera in your hand when a picture presents itself than to be caught without one because you can't settle on which one is the best. Alas, it underlies the philosophy that the skill of the photographer is paramount, and the quality of the camera is irrelevant.

This is one of those canards that is trotted out by people who want to assure you that their pictures are much better than yours, not because they are using $20,000 medium-format camera bodies and lenses that cost more than your car, but because they are just that skilled. Still, if the camera is so unimportant then why are they laying out so much money? By their own logic, a <$200, 3.2 megapixel fixed-focus instamatic should be everything they ever need.

Of course the fucking camera matters. If it didn't, then people would not part with ridiculous sums of money to upgrade.

A great chef can probably prepare a very good meal with only a hotplate controlled by a toggle switch and a single aluminium pot. Give him a stocked, professional kitchen though and he can create a masterpiece. The same thing is true of cameras. Everybody will get the occasional great shots from their iPhone or instamatic, but eventually one is hobbled by the limits of the hardware, whether it can't handle low light, quick motion, or various combinations thereof.

By the way, speaking of bad photographers with shitty cameras, I broke down and installed Instagram this week. Eventually I may settle down and make an effort to take real pictures with this app, but for now I am taking douchy, Instagram stereotypes.
Tags: douchbag, photography
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