A few weeks ago I was shooting a client when I showed her an image off the back of my camera. Which I will say I NEVER do. Not because I like to keep things secret, I have just learned over the years not to do it. ( Ask me about that later.) Anyway I broke my own silly rule and gave her a peek. She let out a squeal of excitement for what she was seeing then she said it….”Your camera is so good!” I’ve heard it before “oh my, you have such a nice camera.” “what camera is that? It takes great pictures.” “your pictures are beautiful, what camera do you have?” …..on and on. Yes, I do have a nice camera. I spent a lot of money on not just one “nice camera” but two….and a slew of ‘nice’ lenses and lighting and every other gadget. But do you want to know what else I have spent a lot of money on? Education. I have spent thousands of dollars on workshops, education, learning materials and I have spent countless of hours engrossing myself in photography and learning everything I can possibly learn. My camera is nearly the vessel to take a picture, yes it is nice…and I do believe that good equipment is important…but if the operator of the camera doesn’t have the knowledge and skills to create a beautiful photograph the camera can’t do it.
Now I’m not mad that my client said that…no not at all. As a matter of fact I found it a little humorous and it got me thinking. I know she didn’t mean it in a way that was offensive and I wasn’t offended at all. But I think it’s a huge misconception that if you have a ‘nice’ camera then you can make a good picture.
This would be like telling a talented dancer “wow those dance shoes are amazing.” Or saying to a hair stylist “oh my goodness, those scissors are so good.” What about telling a baker “wow, this cake is so good! Your oven is amazing.” Or even a painter “what a beautiful painting, you must have good brushes.” Noway Jose! Granted……the dancer will spend money on quality shoes, the hair stylist will have the best shears, the baker will have a top quality oven and the painter will have the best brushes…but that doesn’t make them good. What makes them good is the time they have spent into learning, growing and really perfecting their craft.
So it got me thinking…I wanted to give you a visual as to what I mean.
So this evening I decided to put a cute little dress on my Ava and I handed my little sister my camera. I set it on auto for her and I told her to stand in one area in my front yard. I then asked her to take a few picture of my Ava. She then said “will you pose her for me?” And I said ‘nope, you do it.” So she had her stand in a spot under the tree and said “Smile, Ava.” A few clicks later this was the image that she took.
Yes, she is cute…and her outfit is cute. And well she is pretty center in the image…and she is kinda in focus…but when you zoom in close, she’s not tack sharp. Not to mention that the composition is off. Her feet are cropped and there is a ton of head room. Let’s not forget that there is no compression to the background or cropping out my house or yard toys. This image was taken with my professional camera and my professional lens.
Then it was my turn. I kept Ava in the same spot. Knowing that the background was unfavorable, I knew I had to approach the image from a different angle than having her just stand there. So I sat her down in a pose that I could work around the background with, I put my camera back on manual mode and I changed my aperture, time value, ISO and white balance to reflect what I wanted from the image. With a clear vision in mind (from the countless hours of learning) I was able to get this image…in the exact same location, lighting and with the same camera as the above image.
But for myself and the type of photographer and artist that I am, it just can’t end there. So I pulled the image into photoshop and did some creative and artistic adjustments to it. I turned this front yard photoshoot into something I could hang on my wall.
So what does this say to all of us? It says that just because one has a nice camera does not make them a professional. It also shows that a professional can take nearly any location and lighting and turn it into a spectacular photograph. Even if it’s your own front yard.
To all your photographers out there and those who want to be photographers I want to encourage you to really learn everything you can. I still learn something new EVERY SINGLE DAY that has to do with photography or business. You can do it too…and the more you learn the more you will be prepared to meet ‘front yard’ situations with the confidence that you can create something beautiful…because YOU are a amazing photographer, your camera just helps you out!
*Camera used: Canon 5D Mark III
Lens Used Canon 70-200L II IS 2.8