Gear! Oh, the thought of a shiny new camera or lens just sends most of us into a state of bliss. Stacked upon my coffee table are months worth of photography magazines filled to the brim with paid advertisements telling me that I can be a much better photographer if I just buy this or that. I’m as guilty as the next in lusting after that next generation camera or that new f/1.x lens. If I could only spend $2000 on this or that, I could make photographs that will please generations to come! Not true. Here’s the real truth… all the amazing photographs we love and strive to equal were made with far less cameras than the cheapest entry level camera available today. Yes, you heard me. Vivian Maier, Cartier-Bresson, and all those guys didn’t have anywhere near the camera or technology we have. But their images resonate with heart and soul.
Many of us who claim to be photographers are actually photographic collectors. Camera hoarders. Lens collectors. Gear-heads. Call it what you like, but if you are a true photographer, you can capture the heart with anything. I’m guilty. I admit it. But once I realized that I’m spending more time reading about photography, trolling the forums and cruising B&H for the next big thing than I am actually making photographs, I had an epiphany. None of that really matters. Someone I talked to today said they wished they took pictures like their grandmother used to take. Think about that. It’s so true. Vivian Maier walked around with a box camera and snapped shots with heart and soul. Sometimes we spend so much time looking for the money shot, we miss what actually could be the so-called “big one”.
The point of all this is that we need to stop obsessing about the gear. Stop reading the forums and Ken Rockwell’s BS. Spend that time, instead, going out there and making photographs with whatever camera you happen to own. The more you press the shutter, the closer you will be to finding your vision and making that capture that will move the hearts and minds of those looking at it 50 or 100 years from now. What may seem ordinary today will, I assure you, seem exotic tomorrow. Take photographs. Don’t dwell on what others have done, dwell on what you have yet to produce. If anything, look at other photographs for inspiration. The best photography book you can read today has no words. Simply images. Study those and you will make better images yourself.