What Camera Do You Use?

I guess the thing I get asked the most is: “What camera do you use?” I always find that a revealing question. It’s like asking a painter what brushes she uses. Or, a musician what saxophone he plays. The question is always asked with a sense of enlightenment, like learning the answer will reveal some great insight into how a good photograph is created.

In many ways it’s similar to thinking that a $300 Escoda Kolinsky Sable brush will create a better oil painting than a $10 house brush from Aaron Brothers. Sure, the better products will hold up better and last longer. They will hold their shape longer. They are more comfortable to work with for longer periods, etc. But they don’t paint a better picture. Neither does a more expensive camera take a better picture. It will have better reliability, more durability, larger file size, and so on. But it still comes down to the person looking through the viewfinder and pushing the shutter release.

That question always reminds me of the story told about the legendary photographer Sam Haskins. One evening Haskins went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said “I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.” He said nothing until dinner was finished, then offered: “That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.”

Now back in the day –the one before digital cameras– I don’t remember people asking what camera I used. I think today there is so much emphasis on the digital technology, that the craft of photography is overtaken by the technology of digital equipment. People truly have the perception that the camera creates the image. In fact, it only records the image that the photographer creates.

The old saying that: “music is in the musician, not the instrument,” is so very true.