After not posting anything for quite some time (I blame both my workload and laziness), I decided to pick up another of the things I learned about photography:
It’s better to photograph with the camera you own than to wait for the camera you want
While this always has been true, in the last 20 or so years, as photography became massively popular and accessible and the variety of cameras and lenses has grown exponentially, many people started talking about themselves as photographers without adding that what they in fact like about photography is playing with gadgets. It is naturally very tempting to focus on the gear, always strive to get the best kit one can afford and follow all the latest trends in technology. But in doing so, one must not forget what really matters and what photography is all about. It is about the creative process, it is about the artistic thinking, it is about producing something that touches people’s emotions in some meaningful way.
There’s always a piece of kit that one would want — be it a new camera, a super sharp lens, a filter. But the kit itself is rarely the inhibiting factor in achieving a great photograph. Yes, for some types of photography (sports, macro to name two prime examples) it is necessary to have a certain type of kit. But even then it seldom needs to be the best of the best. Fantastic photographs can be achieved with the most basic equipment. What really matters is how it is used and, most of all, how the photograph, as an artistic undertaking, is executed.
I have seen many incredibly moving, exciting and artistically innovative photographs taken with relatively modest if not rather ancient kit. In fact, as a perfect example, I like to mention a series of panoramic photographs from the north Bohemian city of Most and its surrounding taken by one of my favourite photographers Josef Sudek over five decades ago. All these photographs were taken using a wooden, hand-made camera, with a basic large-format lens from 1930s. The prints themselves are of course contact prints on a bromide paper — the most basic camera and a traditional process. Yet, all the photographs are absolutely stunning — dramatic exposure and composition, great lighting and a gloomy atmosphere. Sudek managed to capture Most (a city surrounded by coal mines and for decades ‘famous’ for one of the worst living conditions in the country) so genuinely and uniquely, that even if you’ve never visited the place you feel you know what’s like to live there. That’s what photography is about. For me, this is an example that kit does not really matter and that it’s better to photograph with the camera you own than to wait for the camera you want.