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Having A Camera Doesn’t Make You A Photographer Pt. 1

Lana "Malibu" McKenzie - Photo By DJ Foothill
Lana "Malibu" McKenzie - Photo By DJ Foothill

So often I am asked or I see posts asking about gear! What gear should this or that photographer of varying degrees of experience purchase. My favorite however are the newbies who are about to purchase their first “Professional” or “Prosumer” camera in the hopes of having the opportunity to photograph gorgeous women.

This is fine but the information handed down usually ends up being either a Canon v. Nikon or a vertiable photographer’s wish list of gear. For the record; 99% of all the photographers using sites like ModelBrigade, iStudio, and the myriad of others have absolutely zero reason to possess a Hasselblad H4D, so why would a newbie?

My usual answer to the often asked question about gear is… “These days it really doesn’t matter!

It seems that the recent influx of “internet” photographers and models has created this full blown size battle. A desperate case of mine is bigger than yours if you will. Interestingly enough so many fail to realize that having a sword doesn’t make you a Samurai. They seem to fail to realize that it’s not necessarily the tools of the trade which makes wonderful photos happen. It’s the wielder of said tools of the trade that makes magic happen.

Many of the shooters I see today first picked up a camera within the last 6 or so years, when most cameras were digital. It’s increasingly difficult it seems to find your classic 35mm SLR cameras these days. Having this wonderful technology has made it easier and cheaper for shooters to ply their craft.  What has been forgotten is the actual SKILL that was once needed to be an at the least decent photographer.

When I got my first professional gig shooting for a national swimsuit magazine the only things that existed in the average consumer price range was 35mm film cameras. Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus were the major players in the game. There was no immediate ability to see the shots and make adjustments. There was no photoshop to make your mediocre image look stunning. If a shot wasn’t composed, lit, shot well it usually went into the trash.

DJTalStudio - Equipment Table
Some gear collection.

Back then you pretty much had no choice but to use a light meter, and even at that you hoped you were getting good stuff.  The camera you used mattered very little. In fact it didn’t matter at all! My first camera was a Canon T-50 that I bought from Fingerhut and it came with a 50mm and an 80 – 200mm lens. That camera used to get me laughed at when I’d be around the pros who were running around with their Nikon F series cameras and Canon AE-1’s with attached power winders.

There was however one photographer when I was on a set who didn’t laugh. He’s one of the two photographers who took me under their wing and mentored me in the game. I am forever thankful to both of them who are heavy hitters in the fashion photography game for all their assistance and guidance.

I however digress. I used that little Canon T-50 to make more than enough money to upgrade to two Nikon F4s’ when they first came out. But did upgrading my gear make me a better photographer?

…… For the answers and further information check back at the end of the week for Part 2 of this writing! So don’t forget to bookmark my site.

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