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

Myles Thompson's picture

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....

Jason McNeil's picture

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.

Jonathan Brady's picture

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.

Jason McNeil's picture

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.

Ryan Burleson's picture

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

Ryan Burleson's picture

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 😂

D V's picture

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...

Ryan Burleson's picture

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.

filmkennedy'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.

Robert Larsen's picture

Sounds like equipment measurebators. They've been around for quite a long time, but seem to have become more prevalent in the digital era.

Urban Dictionary: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Measurebator

Ken Rockwell (and we don't need to get into any kind of discussion about him, do we?) has an interesting article on the 7 levels of photography, where measurebators are only one up from the bottom level:

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/7.htm

Somewhat tongue in cheek, but quite a bit of truth in there as well, methinks... :)

Jonathan Brady's picture

I was speaking with a fairly successful local photographer (whom I admire greatly for her work) yesterday and she kept hammering the value of building local relationships (and nationwide and international relationships as well). She talked extensively about working with other photographers on a regular basis, checking out each others work, connecting on social media, etc. I wonder if such a phenomenon is a side effect of such relationship building? Knowing other photographers are quite likely to check your site out...

Denys Polishchuk's picture

"Hey! Remember that awesome shot you did at f/1.2? Oh wait, you don't, because you shoot Nikon. Never mind." Hahaha, that hurts 😀

Anonymous's picture

I don't list my gear. They are just tools.

Peter Timmer's picture

People who brag about their lens being capable of f 1.2 or any other gear related stuff probably brag because they're insecure about their own capabilities as a photographer and therefore try to win by saying they have better gear ;)

Denys Polishchuk's picture

Or they just love their gear a lot.

Anonymous's picture

Which is true. I still love my Pentax K1000 film camera. I've had that thing for ....let's just say a very long time spanning a few decades. ;) I do talk about it, but with other photographers or in posts.

stir photos's picture

Me to! I bought mine (well, my parents did) in 1987 for an elective I needed to choose. Unfortunately though, I don't have it, I'm not sure whatever happened to it...

Alex Cooke's picture

You MUST be a Nikon guy. ;)

Denys Polishchuk's picture

:D

Peter Timmer's picture

yeah you're right :P But that's simply because at the time i bought it, it was the best option for me.. I'f i'd buy one today it might as well be a canon.

Daan Kuipers's picture

But all seem to forget that Nikon has the NIKKOR AI-S 50mm F1.2 😁

Richard Keeling's picture

Identifying with equipment is common trait that's by no means restricted to photographers. Lots of people think in terms of 'I am what I own' - it's a mark of status and wealth. A meaningless mark as far as I am concerned but that doesn't make it invalid for others. For some, clients included, it may be important and thus I can see why these lists pop up. But as for artistry - well, that's a product of how creatively you use whatever equipment you have and is mostly to do with your skill and imagination.

J. Chiu's picture

I see it most often with people who aren't established as a professional to show people they are using "pro" equipment. As if this somehow validates their abilities.

Michael Higa's picture

What happens when you switch systems? Do you have to take down all of your photos because they no longer reflect the system you currently shoot with? Or do people tag each photo with the meta data?

For practical reasons, I'd probably not list my gear. I wouldn't want to have to update my entire site because my photos no longer reflect the system I shoot with. Just seems a bit messy to have to deal with such things.

Anonymous's picture

I list my gear along with the location in my house, the security code for my alarm, all under the heading "Thieves Welcome."

Deleted Account's picture

That is generally my first thought. And yet, this site, 500px and others ask us to provide that information in our profiles. (Maybe they do that cuz they know we love to tell everyone how many toys we have?) I like to know what lenses and settings were used to create posted photos. That is more useful than an inventory of every piece of gear someone owns .. that was not used to create the image I might be admiring.

Jacques Cornell's picture

As a corporate event and portrait shooter for 15 years, I've NEVER been asked about my gear in advance. And, after switching from Canon 1 to Micro Four Thirds, the only client comments I got about my cameras was appreciation of their total silence when shooting in a quiet boardroom meeting.
Strategically, I think it's a big risk to list your gear unless you're using stuff that's widely recognized as esoteric and absolutely state-of-the-art. Otherwise, you're likely to be one-upped by some weekend warrior who's less shy about maxing out his credit cards. Also, it steers any conversation away from what makes you a true professional with a unique product.

Dan Crowther's picture

Depending on where I'm posting I may include exif data about the shot if that can't normally be seen. It was helpful to learn by, so I'm happy to give 'tech-specs' so others can learn too. But as far as an equipment "laundry list"/resume goes the only place I do that is on a couple of photo forums. That way when I ask questions respondents can easily see what gear I've got access to when they offer suggestions.

Patrick Hall's picture

I think it's important to list your gear so people know that Nikon shooters can shoot at 1.2 ;)

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