This morning our pals at PopPhoto tweeted, "The most popular photography story this morning is the Exif of Reuters' best images of the year. Not the pictures. Doing it wrong." I have to agree with them here. Instead of focusing on the images, the story is instead focused on what they were shot with. Is that what we are reduced to? Oogling over gear?
Published originally on November 30, Reuters released 95 photos that they categorized as the best images of 2012. The images are of course amazing and deserve a look, but that's not where the emphasis is being put this morning. Instead, sites are focusing on the gear, the numbers, and the cameras. And I get it, gear is interesting and maybe this data is cool, but I strongly believe that the emphasis on what we are shooting with is overshadowing what we are shooting.
Philip Bloom recently urged his readers to stop being so gear-centric when he read the comments on his facebook in reply to a piece he recently completed. Bloom makes a great point:
"Please this is about a piece of work that I am sharing. Not about gear. Very disheartening.
When I say it's not about gear I mean this post and this film is something I want to share as its special to me.
I love gear. Don't get me wrong and I explain what I use all the time and in depth even in this post but the first two comments on here are utterly unrelated to my post I find it incredibly disheartening. Both felt like smacks in the mouth. The first one from a guy who just obsesses about which camera is best in low light and won't leave me alone and the second basically who cares about this post tell us about yet another new camera. Ouch.
Without a story what is the point of gear? If you are learning then seeing how different people tell stories and why they tell them and how they tell them is more important than knowing the gear side.
The gear side is easy to pick up. What takes time is the rest.
My site is split up 50/50 technical and creative. Both are incredibly important to me.
But what makes me happy? Is it gear or is it creating? Take a guess. If you think it's the former then I should go work at a camera dealer. All the cameras you want there!!"
Large photography sources making a big hubub over exif data overshadows the real reason we all shoot: the art, the passion and the subject. I agree with Bloom, I love gear. I love looking at new stuff and playing with lenses, bodies and software. But that's not why I do what I do. Stories that focus on the gear over the subject like this only perpetuate the "oh those are great pictures! You must have a nice camera" stigma none of us are fond of.
So if you care about the exif data and the lenses and the ISO and whatever, you can read the data. Me? I'm going to enjoy the images and applaud the photographers, not their expensive equipment.