Do You List Your Photography and Video Gear Like a Resume?

Do You List Your Photography and Video Gear Like a Resume?

I've noticed a peculiar phenomenon lately that I don't quite understand. I'll be browsing someone's website or Instagram, and the piece of information they lead with is the gear they're shooting with. Why do photographers do this?

Amongst Photographers

When speaking with other photographers, I think it's entirely normal to talk about gear. Some of us do it to understand how images were created, some of us do it to nerd out. I personally text every Nikon shooter at Fstoppers the same message every morning:

It's perfectly normal for people in an industry to talk shop with other people in the industry. It lets you keep up with trends, improve your knowledge, and just straight-up geek out. I love gear. I'll talk about it all day.

For Clients

This is where it gets weird for me. I'll often be idly browsing Instagram or the web, and I'll come across a photographer's portfolio, and it lists their name, followed by a list of gear they're shooting with. I honestly don't particularly care; I'd much rather hear about you, what you shoot, or some other interesting blurb that connects me with your work. If I want to know about the gear on a specific shot, I'll ask.

It's even stranger for me when I see it on a website. An Instagram account is something I can see more as a showcase for some photographers. On the other hand, a website is your calling card for your business. When I see a list of gear on the "About the Artist" page instead of an honest paragraph or two that helps me connect with their work and get to know them, it turns me off to the photographer. People often judge and make decisions at lightning speed on the Internet, and any extraneous information can be detrimental.

And so, for clients, I imagine this effect is ten times worse. For them, they're likely reading a list of technical items they neither understand nor care about. An opportunity to connect with a client is missed. Sure, there are those that do care about the gear you use, namely commercial clients, but they typically know to ask that when they inquire about your services; and besides, I'm speaking more of the portrait and wedding photographer sites I've seen this on.

Conclusion

I personally think all the little details such as this add up to make a difference in how a client views you. What do you think? Am I being too sensitive here? Does a client really care one way or the other?

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59 Comments

It's effecting both sides. I've seen producers asking for operator-owners with high end cameras such as RED, Sony F55 - rather than stating that they require a specific skill set of level of experience (or even asking to see a reel). I've also been asked which camera I own in an interview; the producer told me they had another candidate with a Red -- so what was I supposed to say to compete with that - - that I will go out and buy an Alexa? So I can understand why photographers have ended up defining themselves by the equipment they own. One way around it (perhaps) is to list the cameras you've worked with..?

Ken Flanagan's picture

Thats what I typically do. I have worked with a lot of cameras, but owning a Red Weapon is just a smidge out of my budget.

Lee Sechrist's picture

We shoot most of our video projects on FS7s. If we hire freelancers to help with projects, we a) Want the footage to match, and b) we most often times bring a camera for the shooter to use. Knowing the operator/dp/cinematographer has a working knowledge of the camera is a make or break when considering them for a project.

I don't personally own a cinema camera, but I am confident with a handful of them and am a phone call away from renting one.

Sergio Miranda's picture

I think at advanced commercial level, gear is important for some clients. And specially more so on video. In photography, it doesnt really matter. You might just say "I make High Resolution images" and that's it.
Agreed that for video industry, you need to match other cameras, as in video, you have more chances to shooting something with two or more cameras. And also there are certain cameras which have specific uses, as slow motion for example...

But for still photography? no need to be listing gear

Lee Sechrist's picture

I think i'd be more interested in knowing what gear was used for photo if it was a stunning shot from an entry level crop sensor DSLR with a kit lens.

Mario Van Essen's picture

In The Netherlands is is called (free translation): "the little dick syndrome" ;-) I am a little gear addicted as well, however, no client have even asked about my gear or actually only once when I had my new Sony A7RII and not the normal Nikon D810 and because of the size they asked if it was a consumer camera....

I don't list it. If your hiring me and you have reviewed my portfolio then you can see what I am capable of. Are hiring me for my equipment or my talent? I believe the work I create, I can do the same quality of work whether it is with a DSLR or a action camera or a cellphone. It's my photographer's eye that make people come to me.

...but that's just what I do.

You can produce the same quality of work with a cellphone as you can with a DSLR? So it's safe to assume that you simply use a cellphone all the time, right? It would be moronic to waste money on something more expensive if the results are the same.

You misunderstand. I can if I wanted, I create the same piece of work from using a DSLR with a cellphone. I don't use a cellphone. No need to be rude about it.

Uwe Neugebauer's picture

Alex, I totally agree with you. For me there is another simple reason why to not list gear: nobody pays me for the advertising space on my website ;)

Ken Flanagan's picture

They are missing out then. You do some beautiful work.

Seems like a personal problem from the cool kids table. I actually like to see what a photographer uses that I admire, this could be anything from techniques, software, and hardware. With the increasing popularity of photography in general even clients might want to see what you are packing.

Sergio Miranda's picture

yeah, but you like to see that as a "fellow photographer". The client doesnt give much of a sh*t

With all the articles lately like the "only choose photographers using Nikon or Canon" bridal mag it's becoming more prevalent that clients do in fact check photographers gear. That's not saying they know what the gear is actually capable of. Assumption is the root of all evil 😂

Ansel Spear's picture

Some time ago I was recce-ing a site with my client. As an aide memoire, I took shots with a Nikon Coolpix P5100.. The client looked at it in horror and said, 'I hope you won't be taking the proper snaps with THAT!'.

Hey remember that awesome shot you got in focus? Oh wait, you don't, because you shoot Canon. Never mind.

Ken Flanagan's picture

Even you have to admit that Canon has..... well Canon does.... I see your point.

Alex Cooke's picture

Maybe I should add you to that text thread. ;)

Jacques Cornell's picture

Oh wait, you don't, because you shoot [insert name of any DSLR here].
One of the joys of mirrorless: no more front/back focus or lens AF calibration silliness.

Alex Cooke's picture

I'll add you to the thread too.

Sean Tucker's picture

I don't personally list gear, but I have been tempted. The biggest reason is that it is one of the most asked questions I get, "what gear do you use?" Posting it on your website seems a bit much, but I can understand people posting it on their social platforms because it saves them having to answer the same question a million times.

Korey Napier's picture

Good point.

Sergio Miranda's picture

Are you a wedding/ social photographer? I am never ever asked about my gear...

I post a few photos of my gear on my site for this reason.

Usman Dawood's picture

Alex you're such an ass for sending that text around haha it's awesome lol.

Simon Patterson's picture

I agree - I enjoyed that, too. Very funny! (I shoot Nikon)

Sergio Miranda's picture

I have a Nikkor 50mm f1.2... I don't get the joke...

Alex Cooke's picture

Yes, there's the 1978 MF version. If I knew we'd go back that far, I would have brought up the Canon 50mm f/0.95. ;)

Simon Patterson's picture

Excellent, I thought someone would bring up this lens (or the 55mm). I still enjoyed Alex's joke, though - not many of us are fortunate enough to have one.

Chris Kennedy's picture

For higher end video it makes more sense. Certain producers/clients get all hyped up for an Alexa or RED look. It's one thing when you hilight a $3k DSLR with $2k/lens or $50k+ Digital Cinema camera and $20k+ of lenses.
I also rent my gear from time to time so at least my most sought after gear I'd list. i.e. RED Weapon, Leica lenses, etc.

Oh and as a Nikon shooter I've shot at f/1.2... Since 1978 Nikon had a 50mm manual focus one-one of my favorite vintage lenses! You really want to compare cameras go to dxomark and see how Canon compares to Nikon and Sony in dynamic range-they are years behind.