Photographers and Their Tools

DSC_7994.jpgEvery photographer out there that has a lot of experience will tell you that you can make great photographs with just about any camera, any lens, any software, any film, any paper, etc. etc. I tell people this all the time. I have for years, especially in workshops that I have held where the focus was never what tool is required to get some desired set of results. Way back when I got my very first Hasselblad digital system I used it in a grand total of one workshop. Ever since then I use whatever the crappiest digital camera I happen to own at the time.

The reason for this is immediately after I hoisted the $30,000 camera rig and fired of the very first frame that showed up on my tethered large LCD the conversations for the participants changed from what they should be to the object of wonder, lust, and desire that was the digital 'blad. Now I use my Nikon D2h and there is never a thought that anyone has to run out and grab one to make good images. The funny thing is I didn't even like using that beast of a 'blad that much. About the only saving grace was that it did put out good files and the viewfinder was big and juicy. This does not mean that I don't believe that photographers should really really like their tools - I do, I really really do. They just should not confuse the enjoyment of the materials with that matter at had to produce results. I personally want both. When I enjoy the tools materials, and process end to end - I feel better.

That brings me to the point - we all have really special relationships with our equipment and materials and we all have what we like the best and it is completely true you can make really great images with just about any equipment/materials/etc. That is not even close to saying you will like using that equipment, those materials, or that process. If you shoot commercial images sometimes you must use equipment/processes/materials you do not enjoy. Shooting images that you want to shoot with nobody to please but yourself is a completely different story - there is no reason whatsoever to use what you do not like or do not enjoy. For the most part there is overlap - thank goodness.

When it comes to image processing software it is a little different. For the most part enjoyment is not part of the equation - you may enjoy the results but rarely do you enjoy the software. I may be going a little overboard here but Apple Aperture changed that for me, and for a lot of other photographers that I know. For the first time I enjoyed using a piece of image processing software in the same way I really enjoy some of my other tools and materials. I really enjoy  a lot of my simple cameras and simple lenses, finely crafted objects of beauty and function - but still simple. I really enjoy some of the analog film materials that I use - I find the materials in and of themselves beautiful, finely crafted, and capable of producing beautiful finely crafted end results.

So if you have the choice - using fantastically beautiful tools and materials every step of the way that produce the results you also find beautiful why would you not want to use them? Yea I could use other things that I don't find as attractive - that I don't like as much and get the same results - but why?

Call me strange but I not only want to love the results, I want to enjoy and appreciate the tools and materials that I use to get them to. Forget that - you don't have to call me strange - I know I am but I am strange in the way not a whole lot of the population is - I guess that is why I am a photographer. I may take it a little overboard considering I even use films and developers that produce negatives that have a beauty in and of themselves rather than something that produce the same end results in a print but the intermediate product is not quite as "nice".


Ps. Evidence of strangeness = take the image of PXP at the top of the post. I even find black and white negatives beautiful in and of themselves.

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