Thursday, March 7, 2013

What Is Important In Photography?

Clasped - Tehachapi, California
About 15 years ago when I was taking photography classes in college, I was not taught what is important in photography. I was taught a lot about darkroom techniques (which is practically useless information now), camera bodies and lenses (that are no longer used by practically anyone), and a little about photography history (which is interesting, but not necessarily important), but almost nothing about what truly matters in photography.

So what is important in photography? Vision. The decisive moment. The things that make a photograph great.
Wheat Grass - Tehachapi, California
Cameras, lenses, software, and other equipment are not important. Those things are just tools. They're a means to an end, but never, ever are they the end.

What is the end is the final image. The print, or in some cases the digital file, is what matters. No one cares what cameras you own. No one cares what lenses you own. No one cares what software you use.  People only care about the photograph that they're viewing, and whether or not it strikes them in some way.
Roadway - Caliente, California
However it is you achieved that image is unimportant. No one cares! You could use a $20,000 camera or a $20 camera, and nobody gives a hoot. So why should you care?

Many photographers spend a lot of time, money and effort on equipment, but spend almost nothing figuring out how to actually create something great with that equipment. It is far more important to learn how to craft great photographs than to buy some new camera or lens.
Sunrise At Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, Texas
The fallacy is that great equipment makes great photographs. Great equipment cannot create any photographs because photographers create, not cameras. Cameras are machines, photographers are artists.

Great photographers can create amazing images with any camera, including what most would consider "junk." That's because photographic vision can be applied to any camera. Likewise, poor photographers cannot create anything worthwhile even with the best equipment.
Wood Tear - Tehachapi, California
This is not to say that you should photograph with junk. It is simply to say that equipment is not important in photography. Most people seem to think that equipment is the most important, but that is a lie put forth by camera manufacturers and camera salesmen to get you to open your wallet.

What is important in photography is creating art. Making something meaningful with the tools you have is important. It's never about the tools you use, it's about what you make.


  1. Indeed, straight to the point. I'm in the final stages of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and I already figured out that the camera itself does not matter. When you look at some photographs that are considered greatest of given era, often times, they are not technically perfect, but again, that's not what's important. As Ansel Adams once said: There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept. (sorry for replying to such an old post ;))

    1. Thank you for commenting! GAS is terrible, yet easy to get caught in. Photographers create great images, not gear.