Sunday, October 17, 2010

Selling you camera dissatisfaction

No-entry sign shot in Seahouses, UK. Shiny and new is not necessarily beautiful or interesting. Taken with a Canon 5D and 17-40mm L lens.

The Christmas period is coming up and there’s lots of new equipment to put on your wish-list. New cameras, new lenses and lots and lots of new gadgets are going to be thrust at you by the marketers.

For those people on a budget for Christmas, not able to afford all the amazing stuff that is being raved about in magazines and on the internet, I hope the rest of this article will help you side step the marketing juggernaut.

The message underlying all of this marketing is that because the new Brand X camera has this or that feature it is far better than what you’ve got at the moment and if you really want to reach your potential as a photographer then you just have to buy it.

By implication, all the photos you took with your current equipment are not as good as they could have been. So maybe you should delete them and start again. Of course I’m just kidding about deleting your work, but seriously, the whole marketing story is built on creating a sense of dissatisfaction with what you’ve got in your camera bag at this moment. So long as you desire the latest camera etc you will never be happy with what you’ve got.

Meanwhile, across the world, great advertising, documentary, social, fine art and photojournalism images are being made with exactly the equipment you’re using and five years ago great images where being made with the equipment which you’d turn your nose up at right now and discarded long before you bought your current equipment. The images I shot with my first DSLR are selling and in demand with clients just as much as my new images and some of my strongest images in my ‘life portfolio’ were shot 20 years ago on Ilford HP5 black and white film.

It’s been said before, so many times (and it will be said in the future many more times), great images are made by great photographers, not great equipment. The gear can make it a hell of a lot easier to get an image. Nowadays you can take a usable picture in near darkness but, having said that, if you want your subject to be well lit, you’re still going to have to light it properly.

Photography is all about light and controlling light. That’s never going to change, no matter how quickly your camera can focus on a subject moving a zillion miles a hour in minimal light or how many million pixels you have to play with.

If you really must buy something then do shop around make sure you get the best deal because next year you’ll be doing it again.

Till soon,
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