Why Photographers Should Care About Gear

A lot of photographers fall into one of two camps: those who could not care less about gear or those who chase every new piece of kit. So, does gear actually matter? This fantastic video essay discusses why photographers actually should care about gear and how it can help them be better.

Coming to you from Daniel Norton Photographer, this excellent video essay discusses why photographers should and often do care about equipment. This issue often gets overly simplified and compartmentalized into two extremes: those who chase every new piece of gear and those who think that a good photographer should be able to make compelling images on any equipment. There is some valuable wisdom in the latter sentiment, namely that spending money should not be a way to avoid developing solid technique and a creative voice, but it should not be taken so literally that we never invest in worthwhile equipment that is well suited to our respective specialties. A professional invests carefully in the gear that will help them produce the best results in as efficient a manner as possible; after all, it really is true that time is money, particularly when you run your own business. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Norton. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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I think the phrase ‘the gear doesn’t matter’ is born of people getting sick of the endless posturing over specs and oneupmanship, rather than any actual belief that it doesn’t matter.

Of course gear matters, just not in the way that gearheads project.

I'll get to watching this a little later; however, capital acquisition in business is a *very* different question to the idea of "best" in art.

At the moment, I have a project planned on Tmax 3200, and another using medium format pinhole. There is no "best", only the appropriate tool to fulfil creative vision.

And I would add, clinical perfection (if that's where we're going with "best") has its place, but it's very often utterly forgettable.

I'm with you on clinical perfection. It gets very boring, very quickly. The obsession with specs, especially sharpness and needing to shoot wide open all the time and seemingly never satisfied with what's already available (always chasing the next camera tech) is also quite baffling.

I was at the 2016 National Beagle Club Specialty dog show in Ocala, FL. Dog shows have an official photographer that takes photographs of dogs with the person showing the dog for wins and placements. At this show, there were two official photographers.
I was taking photos with my Canon 5D III and 24-105mm f4L for myself. I notified a woman going around and asking people to take their photo with their dog. She got reprimanded from the show committee to stop soliciting business. I was ahead of her getting lunch at the food truck. The guy that she was with, asked "What about him? He has a pro camera." I thought about turning around and saying that I was not poaching.
I wanted full frame since my Canon A-1 and F-1N are full frame; with their respective motor drives, the 5D is comparable in frames per second.