It’s not the camera …

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, Germany, 2009

… but the photographer, that makes the photos. Many people think you need great gear to take great photos. Or shall I say, they equate a “big” (and hence automatically “good”) camera with shooting only “good” photos. While there is some truth in this, there are also a few misconceptions.

First of all, think of a cook and his pots. A ★★★★★ star cook can cook a great meal pretty much anywhere, even in your shitty student accomodation kitchen with the most pathetic, 25 year old pots. But in turn, buying some ridiculously expensive, extra special coated cast iron cooking gear alone probably won’t make you a good cook…

It’s the same with cameras. Of course, having better pots and pans helps a good cook to prepare his meals more easily, and special equipment is needed for some special treats (say a small blow torch for a decent crème brûlée). In photography, sometimes there’s no way around a decent tele lens with a wide aperture, or a super wide angle, or a flash gun. But given a few ingredients, its a cook’s experience, taste or shall I say his “art” that allows him to prepare a good meal. The same holds for a photographer: seeing interesting subjects, lines, colours, light situations, then creating strong compositions, not to mention careful post-processing — that’s actually all independent of what camera you’re using!

Anyway, I just want to rant about all the people that tell me “oh, that’s a great camera, you must be a great photographer”. No, first of all you probably have no clue about the camera, what is capable of (and what not). Second, just having the means and the guts to spend ridiculous amounts of money on photo equipment just doesn’t make you good photographer — that just means you’re either rich, or you’ve lost your senses.

It’s what comes out at the very end of the process, what’s left after you have made all those millions of decisions involved in taking and processing a picture — this is what may or may not make you a “good” photographer.


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