What kind of camera do you use?

I‘m always amused when someone asks me what kind of camera I use. The question implies that a good photograph must be the result of using a fancy, expensive camera.

I would never begin a conversation with a painter by asking, "That's such beautiful painting that you must use an expensive brush."

An illogical way to begin a conversation with an artist would be to say, “That’s a beautiful work of art. You must use a very expensive brush.”

I’m amused because I would never say to a writer, “You have such a way with words. What kind of pen do you use?”

I daily use an expensive fountain pen, but using that pen does not inherently make me a good writer. Neither does shooting with an expensive camera make me a better photographer. A pen, a computer and a camera are all hardware. As important as they are, they will always be a means to an end.

The talented, award-winning photographer Roy Inman tells the story about the father of the boy he was photographing. “Wow! Great shot,” exclaimed the father. “That must be a REALLY good camera!” “Yes, yes it is,” thought Roy. “Just like the REALLY good piano I have at home. But I can’t play it.”

“Photography has nothing to do with cameras,” says photographer Lucas Gentry. “Photography is all about the eye. Many people make the mistake of thinking that if only they had a fancy camera, then they would be a better photographer. Or they’ll think that if only they could take a trip to a more beautiful area, then they could take better pictures. I’m here to tell you that those sentiments are simply not true.”

I love cameras. Yet I will always remember that a camera is just a tool to help me create pictures that are interesting, creative and artistic. I am not minimizing the importance of mastering the mechanics of a camera. After all, any tool should be used correctly. But I cherish the idea expressed by famed photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson who said, “It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head.”

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