Since I began taking photos 10 years ago, one constant has been that I have never been excited by gear. Granted, I like to have a nice camera and lens setup to shoot with, but it’s so rarely the focus of my attention. I’m happy to stick with the same gear until it falls apart, and I couldn’t even tell you what the latest model on the market is.
I remember when the day came to decide on my very first camera body. I knew I wanted to begin shooting, but I had no idea where to begin. How do you choose? Is the gear even important? After all, it’s the photographer that makes the image, right? In the end, my decision was made purely because the friend who promised to help me learn the basics was a Nikon user.
Since then, I’ve had various models. I began with the D60, later upgraded to the D90, before the D7200, and I now use a D500. Often, I’d upgrade because I felt it was what’s expected and that having an “old” model made me look amateur. In regards to lenses, for years, I used absolutely nothing outside of the 50mm. I’m a portrait photographer, and this lens is suited to almost every type of shot I wanted to take perfectly. With this lens, I never wanted for anything. And even though I have since broadened my horizons, adding two different lenses to my collection, the 50mm is still my go-to.
I find there are two types of photographer. First, there are those who love gear, enjoy spending money to have the latest models, and stay up to date with new releases. These photographers are usually the ones who come from a background of photography education. The other kind are those who fell into it somewhat: they picked up a camera and learned everything they know by making mistakes and trying again and will happily use whatever camera is at hand to take their images. The latter tend to be the more experimental, creative folk.
There’s an undeniable degree of snobbery in the photo industry, as if those who can’t afford the latest gear (or simply don’t care for it) are somehow inferior. Instead, we get lumped into the category of “Instagram photographer,” our successes being written off as a fluke.
The fact remains, my efforts are instead focused on two things: creative photoshoot ideas and learning how to maximize the potential of my camera. It’s of little interest to me if the various models released since mine have revolutionized the camera world, for I’ve spent many hours getting acquainted with the one I actually own. I know how it works, I know how to utilize it, and I know how to fix it if something goes wrong on set.
The rebirth of film photography in recent years only further reinforces that super-high quality, latest spec gear isn’t always the right answer. It’s as if we’ve gone so digital, we’ve exhausted it, and analog photography of years past is suddenly desirable again.
To those who suffer imposter syndrome, stop discrediting yourself. Being self-taught, being creative, and having zero investment in the technological side of photography are not crimes. The gear you use is largely irrelevant; it’s the ideas you bring to fruition with it that count.
All other images my own.