The last couple of weeks have been crazy! I am preparing for a trip to Ethiopia on April 16th, which has meant updates on immunizations, getting gear ready and doing research. I have also done some work for a local NGO called Peace of Thread, which I will be telling you more about soon.
Today, I wanted to share this guest post from Craig Ferguson, who is an outstanding freelance travel photographer based in Taiwan. Enjoy!
What Matters Most
Obviously they are of different subjects but they were also shot with very different cameras. Despite both having been published within the last 8-9 months, one was shot on a Canon 5D Mark II and the other on my very first DSLR, a Canon 20D. Can you tell which photograph was taken with which camera?
The photography world has been buzzing over the past couple of months with the announcements and releases of new DSLR’s from Canon and Nikon as well as Fuji’s new mirrorless X-Pro 1. There are probably a few other recent introductions as well.
And all of that is great. If you’re in the market for a new camera then having all these options gives you more power as a consumer. How do you know if you’re in the market though? Is it simply because a new tool is available? Or because you have just finished paying off your credit card from your last camera purchase?
Do you even need to upgrade your current gear? Any DSLR camera that has come to market in the past few years is so good and so highly evolved that for the majority of users, you can use it until it breaks and not miss out on anything. Sure, shooting clean images at ISO 12800 is great but how often do you really need to do that?
Before you fork out a large amount of money for the latest and greatest, ask yourself if it’ll make you a better photographer? Will owning a camera with all the bells and whistles help you improve any? Will your images be stronger as a result? Consider the new Canon 5D Mark III. It’s available at B&H now for $3499. No doubt about it, it’s a great camera. If you buy one, you are unlikely to be disappointed. $3499 is a fair chunk of change though. Will buying one help make you a better photographer? Is there a better way to spend that $3499?
Instead of spending all that money on a 5D Mark III, why not consider a 5D Mark II? They are going for a little over $2000 right now. That leaves you $1500 or so to invest in your photography skills. Looking around the web today I see that Joe McNally is leading a 4 day National Geographic small group workshop in New York in June for $1395. Will a four-day workshop with one of the world’s leading photographers help you improve your photography more or less than buying the latest body? Which do you think will be best in helping you create your own great photographs?
Ultimately, what matters most is the image. How you get there or what tools you use to do so have lesser importance than whether the photograph at the end of the process says what you want it to say. A great photographer can make compelling images with even the simplest and most basic of tools. If you desire to become a great photographer then you’re going to be involved in a lifelong learning process for which there are no shortcuts. A 36 megapixel camera may allow you to create gigantic prints but if you’re like the vast majority of photographers, your images are destined for Facebook or an 8 x 12 on your living room wall, not an advertising billboard.
The seven photographs here have been shot with seven different cameras (Canon 5D Mark II, 5D, 40D, 20D EOS 300 with Kodak 800 and HTC Android Desire) . They all represent my vision and intent at the time of photographing each one. At no time did I feel let down by the tools I had at hand. All the matters to me, and hopefully to you, is what that final image looks like. If it represents what I aim to portray, then the photograph is a success. Equipment and tools are nice but at no point do they replace vision, learning, practice and skill.