What's really important in photography...???

Started 1 week ago | Discussions thread
Aaron801 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,063
Re: The camera is an instrument
1

Lee Jay wrote:

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

Lee Jay wrote:

I'm sick of people using the claim that "its all about the photographer and the subject and the light, not the gear" as if the equipment never matters. It absolutely does matter and, in some cases, it matters a whole lot. Any implication to the contrary will be met with proof that the claim is false.

The camera is an instrument in the hands of a human being. I don’t think anyone would deny that a pipe organ is something altogether greater than a toy piano, and is capable of far more. What is common to both instruments is that an accomplished organist can operate them better than most of us. They are able to operate both keyboard instruments with ease and without awkwardness and are able to reliably and repeatedly produce a large variety of pleasing sounds to most listeners. Certainly the pipe organ is capable of more, but only in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing.

Yeah...both the photographer and the gear matter.

Human beings, and not technology, are at the center of any art.

And now you're off the rails. First, photography isn't an art. Second, both the gear and the photographer matter, and which one is more important depends on many other things.

It's not an art if one is unable or perhaps unwilling to see it that way. It certainly is for the folks who use the medium with that intention and the audience who enjoys it as such.

The analogy used comparing the camera to a musical instrument is actually a pretty good one. In music if the instrument isn't of a certain level of quality or if it isn't something appropriate to the music being played then the performance suffers. Mostly though the performance is determined by the skills and imagination of the person playing the instrument and the same is true in photography. Of course the gear matters some and that should go without saying... no argument for that really needs to be made. Still, some of the most iconic photos have been made with gear that would be considered very basic by today's standards, showing that the most important aspect to it is just as with music; the skills and imagination of the photographer – their ability to communicate an idea.

It isn't likely that the average photographer if gifted with the most capable, highly specced gear is going to produce anything that could get their work into a gallery or get them a gig shooting reportage, fashion, whatever. On the other hand there have been plenty of photographers who have used very basic gear and still managed to attract attention for their work and get hired to do assignment type work.

It's fine if the aspect of photography that you most enjoy is playing with the latest and greatest gear and if the kind of things that you enjoy shooting requires that, but this doesn't in anyway equate to the fact that the gear is the most important tool of a photographer... because in general terms this just isn't true. Most of photographic history was produced with gear that folks like you would consider a handicap and yet this work is the stuff that gets taught in classes in photography and likely will still be taught many years from now when digital photography is even more mature. Then, now and in the future it's the folks who understand the aesthetic and communication aspects of the medium that are going to be the stars, not the ones who simply have the most investment in gear and have the highest level of technical knowledge. The gear and technical knowledge part of it is simply in service to this other stuff...

The human being first must have an idea of what they want to accomplish, and then through the human mental application of technical and artistic means (both technology and technique together) produce a result, and then that result is judged by an audience of human beings. The instruments used in any art are just one of the means—used for better or worse—to deliver the initial human idea to the human audience.

And, like I said, one can be more important than the other, or they can be equal. The above basically claims the person is always the most important, which is flat false.

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