The Camera Conundrum- Is MY Camera Good Enough?

Do you want to hear a secret?  You can do amazing things with a camera.  Did you catch that?  I said a camera.  Not a Canon Mark III 5D, or a Nikon uppity-scrunch blah blah.  (Sorry, folks.  I'm a Canon girl and have no idea what Nikon calls it's camera line...) But are you catching my drift?  You don't need a fancy camera to do something amazing.  

Want to hear another secret?  One that I kept from my photographer friends for a long time?  I was in a photography show in Dallas last year, and you want to know what camera I used to make my images?  A point and shoot I bought at Staples.  And the price tag on my work in the show was $1,000.  Now, granted, I also hand printed my images using one of the original historical photography processes called salted paper printing- thus the hefty price point.  But I want to drive home the idea that you don't need a fancy camera to do something amazing.  

So what do you need to be a better photographer?  You need a camera and some basic knowledge and some practice.  I'm not promising to make you a celebrated street photographer or anything.  But I'm saying if you want to be a better photographer you don't have to start with a better camera.  Work with what you've got.  Any camera will do.  

As a matter of fact, unless you have aspirations of becoming a professional photographer (or you just have a lot of money to throw around on your hobby), the camera that most people use is... their PHONE!  And I love that!  It fits in your pocket.  It's always with you.  And if you are documenting your life- your children, your vacation, whatever- then it's convenient.  Carrying around a lot of gear can be heavy and cumbersome.  

Of course it's always good to keep the end result in mind.  I keep my nice camera at the ready, usually sitting out on the counter or the table.  But 9 times out of 10, if I have the choice between my phone and my camera, I choose my phone.  If the end result is the possibility of being included in a photobook, printed on a small scale (like a 4x6 or a 5x7), or shared on the computer with family and friends then your phone is a perfect option.  As a matter of fact, my Christmas cards last year utilized a funny iPhone photo that I took of my girls in the kitchen. It took up the entirety of a 5x7 card, and it printed like a charm!

This Christmas card image was taken on the fly using my iPhone 5.

But the gist of this post is this: don't let your equipment hold you back.  

I have some examples outside of my own body of work to illustrate this point.  So if you are interested in a little inspirational web surfing, let's take a trip.  I like Time Magazine's Lightbox, and recently they published an article titled You Won't Believe These Incredible Photos Were Taken With iPhones. The gist of the article was really about Apple's new ad campaign, and led you to their website and a gallery that highlights fantastic photographs taken with iPhone 6s.  I like that it shows the photos and also the apps used by the photographer to achieve their look and vision.  I was surprised by how many of the photographs featured only used the camera app preinstalled on the phone.  

But let's take the discussion past cameras vs. camera phones.  I occasionally get lost on YouTube.  (I mean, don't we all?!)  And a few months ago I came across this series that rang a bell for me- The Cheap Camera Challenge.  I've thought about it lots and enjoy going back and watching the videos from time to time.  Here is an article that features a fashion photographer who was challenged to do a fashion shoot using only a cheap child's toy camera.  Click on the link and just do a quick scroll to see the camera she used (it's hilarious) and the resulting pictures, which are wonderful.  If you hit YouTube you can find videos of the Cheap Camera Challenge.  Here is a shorter one from the series.  The message for this series is the same as my message here- don't get caught up in your gear.