Photographers... Not Gear or Apps Make Images

Photographers... Not Gear or Apps Make Images!

Hope the shutterbugs don't burn me at the stake, but I'm starting to prefer mobile iPhone photography more than sSLR or high-end compact stuff.

It seems it just gives me more joy and eliminates gear distraction altogether. Great, sophisticated gear has it's place of course, but to appease my soul... mobile photography gives me the most joy.

I find myself reshooting my iPhone shots just because I'm a "photographer" and expected to deliver noiseless, yada.. yada... images with megapixel... blah-blah-blah. 

I'd rather make images that give me joy and hope they give other's joy.

I have been noticing a difference in the images made while traveling between these images made with an Olympus XZ-1 compact & my heavily-edited recent iPhone 4 images from the same trip:

iPhone 4 shot & edited with apps

Olympus XZ-1 shot & edited in CS5

Happy with each so far for different reasons. Seems like the basic image-making would be similar, but the thought process is somewhat different for me. 

I don't shoot the images within apps. First try to get a basic image that might stand on it's own without any extra app help... then add app FX to taste... like adding spice to food. I have Hipstawhatever, but almost never use it since it doesn't save an unedited version. Also like to pass the same image back and forth between a variety of apps to experiment.

It's so funny when you see photographers whipping around giant lenses and setting up their overkill tripods as if the "show" of wielding their gear is more important to anyone watching than the actual image is. Cracks me up every time! Where do they learn how to be so seriously dramatic with the gear? 

I'm guessing they learned this exaggerated photo-vogueing from some "photo walk" hipster-geek-shutterbug-poser.

To be clear, I too have dSLR gear & decent compacts. My experience goes back more than 30 years including 4x5 view camera use. And, I wouldn't show up with an iPhone for a product shoot of titanium-plated golf clubs.  It's just that I've come to realize that although the right gear for the right job is an important consideration... more often than not, importance of gear squashes pure artistic expression. 

Photographers leading folks out on "photo walks" who ate still selling the snake oil that you must invest in high-end gear in order to make compelling, artistic images just angers me for no other reason than it's simply not the truth.

Recently Nikon posted on their Facebook page, something to the effect that great images require great gear, etc. “A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses.” Without any regard for the photographer making the image. They've since apologized for the comments, but it really touched a nerve.

Great gear has it's place, but it's the photographer who makes the image... not the gear.

Skip Hunt
Austin, Texas

 (All Images © 2011 Skip Hunt)

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by or any affiliated companies.


Total comments: 6
Ashley Pomeroy
By Ashley Pomeroy (Dec 24, 2011)

The fundamental problem with this article is that the iPhone shots - which have been processed to hell and back - are much more visually appealing and far more popular than the relatively unprocessed photographs taken with the compact camera.

A more accurate headline would be "iPhone Apps - I Would be Nothing Without Them".

Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Oct 4, 2011)

You sure aren't!
Another thing... it really pays to think about the intended use for one's photographs prior to investing into the photo-taking gear! I've seen lots of newsmen acquiring the newest Nikon tackle - just to have theirr work printed in shamefully low resolution ranging from 32 to 64 dpi. Newspapers (excepting some high-class mags aren't exactly the most exact photo reproduction media.
Thus, all that excellence in taken pics is an overkill, whether we speak of film or digital takes.
So, anyone thinking about buying a camera should start with a question, "what will I use it for?"... then work upwards to the model which has all the necessary options for one's intentions in the affordable price range.
Often the search will point toward a compact or perhaps a prosumer; rarely toward anything more complicated, bar the case when the answer to the Question is "all".
In this case, a photographer should abandon the idea of buying anything, and revert to the study of basics. ;)

By skiphunt13 (Oct 3, 2011)

Thanks OldArrow! Glad I'm not alone on this. :)

Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Oct 3, 2011)

Well-said & written. This hype about expensive gear getting fantastic photos goes on aroud forever, and those thinking about themselves as top class photographers are actually either not ready nor not educated enough to see the good side of an well put together compact.
I have in the course of my 40+ photographing years used pretty much the most of camera types, and lenses from 2000mm trough 15mm focal lengths, and now I'm quite happy with an old Sony F-828 and a little Canon D10. The first one has some sentimental value, the second is simply a good water-resistant compact which can be used on both sides of the surface.
Before digital cameras, I used to carry a Nikonos III or V with me all the time, and the pictures were quite satistactory.
If someone thinks they absolutely have to tote around a full bag of overpriced glass, let the sight amuse you, nothing else. They'll understand eventually.
Good Light! :)

1 upvote
By skiphunt13 (Sep 30, 2011)


By SvenD (Sep 30, 2011)

Great article and interesting pictures.

1 upvote
Total comments: 6