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Monday, November 29, 2010

Your Camera Takes Great Pictures!

A couple of comments I receive frequently are, "Wow! Your photos are awesome! You must have a great camera!" or "Your camera takes great pictures!! What kind is it?"

One of the things I learned early on when I started photography is...

wait for it...

wait for it...

here it comes...

The camera is an inanimate object, and it only does what the user tells it do.

SHOCKING, right?

Look at this way:
A microphone doesn't make Celine Dion sound amazing. She sounds amazing because she has a gift, and she trains her voice every day.

Pots and pans don't make Rachael Ray an incredible cook. She's an incredible cook because she's been given a talent, and she's worked hard it.

A baseball bat didn't make Cal Ripken, Jr., into one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He was an incredible baseball player because he worked hard at utilizing his gift.

A paintbrush didn't make Vincent Van Gogh into one of the greatest artists in history. He was given a gift, and he worked hard at his gift.
Something all of those people have in common is they've worked hard at perfecting their talent. Yes, the microphone, pots & pans, baseball bat, or paintbrush helped deliver the quality of their work, but in a different set of hands, the results would be completely different. The same goes for photography. Dropping $2000 on camera equipment will not make you a photographer. Trust me. I did that. It didn't work. Seriously. Look at these photos I took in 2006, shortly after I bought my Canon Rebel XT.


Sunflower 3

Gerbera Daisy 1

They are awful photos. I thought they were the bomb. The center isn't in focus on the top one and the white balance is off; the light is too harsh on the second one; and the third one is too dark. They're all seriously ugly.

If my parents had hung any of these on the fridge, it would have seriously been because they loved me like I was five again.

The bottom line is, I had no idea what I was doing. I was just pointing the camera, shooting, and I thought I was making art.

The Erin from 5 years ago is proof that you can have great camera equipment, but if you don't know what you're doing with it, it won't make a difference. Trust me, no one was telling me, "You must have a great camera!" after one look at those photos.

Would you guess that the same camera that took those photos also took these?

Dew of Compassion

Hawk Nelson

Only A Penny

It's amazing what practice and learning how to operate the camera will do to help a person out, isn't? To further show you that it's the person that makes the difference, let's play a little game!


Take a look at these five photos.
Which one was taken with an iPhone?
Which one was taken with a 6 year old Nikon Coolpix 4100 (4MP) point and shoot, valued at $120?
And which one was taken with a Canon 5D DSLR with a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L lens, valued at $3,700?

The Archives: Nature's Textures

Just A Little Snow...

Anyone Want Some Chocolate?

Your Answers: #1, #2, and #4 were taken with the Nikon Coolpix point and shoot; #3 and #5 were taken with the iPhone. No photos were taken with the Canon 5D DSLR. Surprised? Once you take a look at them larger or printed, you'll see the digital noise and lack of sharpness, but otherwise, you'd be hard pressed to tell them apart.

These three photos were created using an iPhone, Canon point and shoot, and a Canon 5D DSLR. Can you guess which photo was taken with which camera?

 #1 was taken with the Canon 5D DSLR; #2 was taken with the iPhone; #3 was taken with the Canon point and shoot.

So, before you decide to go out and buy a new camera, reconsider what you're currently using and how you can be using it better. The camera only does what you tell it to do. Get out the manual and read it. Look up photography articles online. Consider taking an online class - I highly recommend I took a beginner course through them and it taught me what aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are and how they work together. Other than that 4 week course, I read articles online, looked at other photographers' work, and carried my camera with me everywhere to practice. I've still got a LOT to learn - there are photographers like Jasmine Star, who are using the same equipment as me, and blow me away at their awesomeness. Jasmine has a great camera...but her photos are incredible because she's worked hard at perfecting her gift.

If you're saying, "OK, I get it, Erin. BUT, I really am ready to move on to a different camera," then, by golly, swing on back tomorrow 'cause I'm going to share some thoughts on cameras with you and tell you what I would have done instead of spending over $2000 on my first camera! Until then...get out your cameras and create some photos!



  1. Tried to comment a minute ago but wasn't signed in, so I'm trying again... Thanks SO MUCH for sharing this. I see people all the time who think that because they bought a fancy camera that it instantly makes them a professional and it simply isn't true at all. It's the talent behind the camera that matters. (And a little bit of the camera itself, because you won't see a wedding photographer using an iPhone to photograph the wedding... but I bet he takes great photos of his friends with that iPhone!) Your point was very well made. Great job.

  2. Great post Erin - and a great hidden lesson here on life in general - Do your best with what you've been given.

    - BP

  3. High Contrast Photography: Agreed, although I can't fault people for making the comment because it's well intentioned and meant as a compliment. Sadly, it sells their own potential ability short because they believe a great camera is needed to take a great photo. Ansel Adams had a box with a hole in it and he's probably the most well known photographer. You're right, the camera does help, but I wouldn't be surprised if we see a photographer using an iPhone to shoot a wedding. Check out this wedding video someone did with it!



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