I recently purchased a new camera and was talking about it over social media. A friend of mine asked me if I love photography as much as I love the gear. Without hesitation I answered "yes!". I admit, I'm a gear junky. I love reading about it and I especially love hearing user feedback.
A Facebook friend recently read CJ Chilver's e-book A Lesser Photographer, Escaping the Gear to Focus on What Matters. This read seemed to have a pretty profound impact on her. I had read CJ's thought-provoking manifesto some time ago so I decided to spend the $5.00 on the e-book from Craft & Vision. (side note: If you have not heard about Craft & Vision, check them out. They have awesome e-books at very reasonable prices.) CJ says "In deciding which photo blogs, books, and magazines are worth your time, it helps to remember our obsession is not cameras, its photography." When I read this, I was reminded of the conversation I had with my friend. I do love both and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I love gear and I don't think it stands in the way of my passion for making images.
I don't have the expectation that getting a new camera is going to improve my photography. I'm sure every photographer has heard, "wow, your photos are great! You must have a good camera!" I always want to hand them my camera and see if they get the same results. If I bought the same camera as Trey Ratcliff, Thomas Hawk or Valerie Jardin, should I expect to get the same results they do? I don't think so. If only it were that easy!
Today's technology does help, no doubt, and sometimes it makes the act of making images more fun. With today's cameras you immediately see your image allowing you to make adjustments on the spot so I can try again to get the results I want. I couldn't do that with film. But the fact of the matter is, I'm still composing my images, putting my subjects in the best light, and choosing how to frame them. Technology can't do that for you. I made great images when I was using my Dad's Canon AE-1 program on full auto mode with manual focus. Some of my favorite images were taken with that camera. It was all about the composition, not super fast auto-focus, image stabilization, art filters and all of the other bells and whistles we have today.
So, what will make me a better photographer? Practice. Improving my photographic eye. Experimentation. Will I give up chasing the new gear? No. Why? Because it's too much fun! :)