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Dear photographers. Forget about your gear.

I have a photographer friend, well, acquaintance really, who calls me periodically. Most of the time I take his calls. but sometimes I just don't have the energy. You see, for me photography isn't about the gear. He's never learned that. For him, it's ALL about the gear.

Photographers like to classify themselves according to their style. These days "natural light" photographers are all de rigueur. A natural light photographer, for the uninitiated, is someone who uses basically daylight, to capture their images. Usually this is because they haven't learned how to use anything else. New, always on LED panels and dramatically editable images (via PhotoShop) are also popular.

I initially learned how to take pictures with a Pentax camera made in 1954. It didn't even have an internal light meter. When I went to Art Center, for my first two years I shot every single image with an Omega View 4X5 view camera and for the first 15 years I was a photographer there was no such thing as digital. We either got it in camera or we didn't get it at all. Sometimes I miss those days.

The cameras I have now are pretty up to date. Some of my lenses are newer and some of them are older. I use dumb flashes because I don't want them thinking for me. And that's the thing. To me, gear is gear. (Don't tell Canon I wrote this because I'll probably lose my Canon Professional status!) To me, photography becomes art when I forget about the gear.

Don't get me wrong, I'm always paying attention. But great images are more about the connection between the photographer and what's being photographed than about the connection between the photographer and the camera. The mechanics are important, but they're just the mechanics. Magic happens when everything else coalesces around the moment.

And that's the challenge with my friend. He's ALWAYS talking about missing this piece of equipment or that gel or whatever. He asked if I was updating equipment this year (I am, updating one of my camera bodies) and that kicked off a 10 minute "conversation" about whether he should switch to Sony. Honestly, do what you love. Always. Just, please, stop talking to me about the gear.


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