Thoughts on Why Gear Doesn't Matter

A lot of us like to keep up with the latest gear, and there is certainly nothing inherently wrong with that; after all, cameras are rather nifty gadgets. But it is important to not confuse enthusiasm for gear with gear being a shortcut to improving as a photographer. This great video essay discusses the topic and offers some good motivation for enjoying what you have. 

Coming to you from Craig Roberts with e6 Vlogs, this interesting video essay discusses why it is important to not get caught up in equating better gear with better images. No doubt, there are certainly situations in which better gear can make a difference (or might even be necessary); for example, a wildlife photographer might absolutely need a wide-aperture supertelephoto lens to capture faraway animals in dim light with a fast enough shutter speed to freeze motion. However, we often tend to place too much stock in how much of a difference newer or more expensive gear will make. In reality, the majority of the time, working on technique, learning about a new method, or taking on a new creative project will make a bigger difference. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Roberts. 

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16 Comments

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Define "gear". So many types of photography. Get more glass or more camera or more lights... Rarely all of it is needed. Planning is key.

Jeff McCollough's picture

I agree. I have narrowed down my gear to a smaller kit of well selected items that help me shoot what I need to for my clients.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Gear does matter. End of discussion.

Jerome Brill's picture

Antimatter matters

Chris Rogers's picture

Jerome knows what's up.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Just to support the discussion:

PC is much more powerful and flexible than Mac

Canon is Far Superior than Sony.

Jess Aggeboe's picture

Canon fanboy that hates Sony and speaks like Donald Trump, it’s so sad 🙄

David Pavlich's picture

You do know that not everyone here has English as their first language. And since you seem to be an expert at all things grammar/English, your sentence is poorly written. Then, you had to politicize the conversation.

There's people here that hate Canon, but I don't let it get my colon in an uproar. It's just a camera.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Oh, English grammar in comments on international websites is even better than Mac vs PC.

David Pavlich's picture

Well, I've always been impressed with people that speak more than one language. I took Spanish in high school and retained about a dozen phrases....pretty pathetic. But I never had to use a second language. My parents were both fluent in Serbo-Croation, but didn't teach us because they used it so we kids didn't know what they were saying. ;-) My Mom apologized to me later in life for not teaching us.

I don't criticize people for bad spelling or grammar on the 'net. This isn't school so why get in a tizzy over something so insignificant? Well, I do if that someone has decided to make it a point of argument AND they make grammatical and spelling errors in the process. It's the old 'people in glass houses' thing. I'm no grammar/spelling champ for sure, but people that criticize others without thinking is a kind of irritant.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Canon sensors are huuuuge. They are enormous. By the way, it’s true.

Michael L. McCray's picture

Professionally it about the results, you're not paid for your equipment and sometimes it is nothing more than a prop that you lug around. Think about those who carried around a view camera which I did in my early days, you learned
to create with tools you have, the most important being your eye and mind.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

That is not valid for everything. Two weeks ago I shot furniture for two days in a rented house and I used a lot of "gear". Without it it there is no way I would have made the client happy. But my gear was lights, not lenses. I used only two lenses. You can't rely on the sun for these shoots because the natural light rarely falls the way you want when you need it and planning to shoot with the sun by changing room in a specific order during the day would be a catastrophic. Then you have adjacent rooms that show in the background to most likely fill one way or another especially if there are no windows and since the emphasis is on the product, you need more lights to either make your own sun placed outside, get light coming from another room and so on. And then you need smooth fills that won't cast their own shadow to help the small amount of natural light that enters the room. It's a lot like video sets only sometimes you may shoot stills 100% with natural light but typically it's going to be a smaller item. Pros are paid for their work with lights, natural or not but really the sun controls the photographer so lights are needed as soon as you enter a room. That's why when people define "gear" as in cameras and lenses they are cheating themselves to the delight of camera and lens manufacturers.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Well said.

Michael L. McCray's picture

Sure it not valid for everything but a lot of the time it is valid. You shoot to satisfy the client. My attitude changed when pulling up into a client's building with a truckload of equipment I began to give serious thought to what I carry and if I really need everything. I am paid for the end product. I am paid for that product because of my skills at using my tools. I have used four lights for portraits found I get the same money when I use just one skillfully. One of my first commercial jobs was chairs that beauticians use for a manufacturer that was in the 70's.

David Pavlich's picture

Our weekly interlude into 'gear matters/gear doesn't matter'.