Who Needs a Photographer When You Have a Great Camera?

“U rock! This is such an incredible moment…what kind of camera do u use?”

Every photographer has heard something like this.  Anyone who’s photographed an event in the past 5 years has had “that guy” come up to inspect and judge their ability based on the type of camera they use, often because the critic has a more expensive (or as they’d say, “better”) camera.  And in a technologically dependent society that has produced cars that park themselves, this reaction can’t really be unexpected anymore.

I used to say something.  I used to bring up all the time I spent learning how to use my equipment (and how much time I still put into that).  I used to mention that a good chunk of my favorite photos–images I still use in portfolios–were taken on a camera that was nowhere near as advanced as what I shoot on now.  I used to consider challenging them, giving them my DSLR and taking their point-and-shoot to show them that “better” tools can enable an artist’s abilities but cannot provide substance in the first place.

But none of that really sinks in or changes what the speaker thinks, so now I just sigh and answer them, then write about it on the internet.



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2 responses to “Who Needs a Photographer When You Have a Great Camera?

  1. Gary McGinnis

    I struggle with the term “photographer”. Is it luck or skill or a combination. I am amazed when I go to a significant event that is covered by media and my shot is similar to the shot published in the paper or perhaps even better.

    This weekend I was at a speech given by an actor in Gettysburg. I was shocked when I saw the picture. The press had access and my shot was taken from the side but the photo used in the paper was in my opinion pretty crappy.

    Bottom line I wonder if I am good enough to take it to the next step and turn skill to profit.

    Your photos are very good and make me jealous sometimes.

    • I think the term “photographer” means so many different things to people. I’ve only recently started to own the label instead of tentatively putting it forward.

      Event photography is tricky. A lot of it is luck and a fast shutter finger, but skill definitely helps. I also think newspaper photos are more about having some visuals to go with the text than necessarily showcasing fantastic images.

      You could always poke around at local papers, see if anyone could use another photographer to have on hand for event photos.

      Thanks! I’ve heard a lot of arguments saying you shouldn’t look at anyone else’s work, and I can see the logic behind that, but I think finding an artist who makes me a little envious or a little disappointed in my own work is a good thing that motivates me to be better and have more work that I’m proud of 🙂

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