Cameras Are Stupid & I Can Prove It

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Lately I’ve had really bad GAS. Not the kind of gas where you go around farting on your dogs—but G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). GAS is a term coined by one of my favorite photographers—Zach Arias [Check him out, he’s amazing]. You have GAS when you’re consumed by camera gear—to the point where you can’t focus on anything else.

We’ve all said things to ourselves like:

  • “If I can just buy that $10,000 Leica camera, my photography will take off.”
  • “For some reason, I need a $300 reflector to improve my photos.”
  • “Instead of this garbage 50mm 1.4 lens—I need the magical 50mm 1.2 lens.”
  • “That sexy camera bag will make my life complete.”

ECT.

So how does one go about solving their GAS problem? My advice is to remember that cameras are stupid. Allow me to explain.

I set out to test my hypothesis by placing two different cameras side by side and seeing which one took better photos.

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Pictured above is my Canon 7D 70-200mm 2.8 lens and my little Fujifilm X70 with an 18mm lens (our cactus was only there for moral support). After a week of sitting there like two buffoons—neither camera took any photos.

That’s because cameras don’t take photos—people take photos.

Let me ask you a question. Do you know what type of brush Van Gogh used to paint “The Starry Night”?

I don’t.

How about Davinichi’s “Mona Lisa”—what brand of paint did he use?

No clue right?

Unless you’re a huge art nerd, you probably have no idea. That’s because history doesn’t remember those details—history remembers THE WORK.

The paint and brushes are just tools. Which brings me to my main point—a camera is a tool, that’s it.

Cameras are just glorified plastic metal bricks.

A new camera might be a better tool, but it’s not going to help you take better photos. 

“Buy Books Not Gear”

Street photographer Eric Kim has a mantra—”buy books not gear”. This is a reminder that as photographers, it’s more important to learn the craft of photography—rather than obsessing over the tools.

Don’t get me wrong, I love geeking out over camera gear. I have a youtube channel where I will be posting camera reviews & other nerdy photography videos. I think gear is one of the things that draws people to photography. The problem is in thinking a newer camera or piece of gear is going to make your photos better.

My advice:

Step 1. Read this: 5 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING YOUR NEXT CAMERA

Step 2. Buy a camera that takes photos.

Okay, that’s it you’re done. Now go take some photos. Better yet—make some photos….i.e. put some thought into what you’re doing, what you want to say, what you’re feeling, what the light looks like, your composition, leading lines, rule of thirds, “gestures???”. —google photography gestures

Don’t take a photo—make a photo.

How do you learn all this?

Study the greats. Buy photo books and learn from the images that are still making an impact on our culture 50-70 years after they were made.

Elliott Erwitt
William Kline
Robert Frank
Diane Arbus
William Eggleston
Vivian Maier

To name a few.

Read books on Photography & Autobiographies of Photographers.

Study other forms of Art & Artists.

Learn about what makes a great photograph—then go practice making them.

Become obsessed.
Go Mad.
Mad people are more interesting.
-Tim

 

 

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