Recently, I received a mail from a good friend of mine, who wanted me to print a picture out of my portfolio for him, and he already had chosen two of them. The funny thing is, that in my whole portfolio (at the moment) there is only one single photograph taken with an iPhone, and apparently exactly this one was one of the chosen ones. The other one was a picture, that I had taken with a nearly 35 year old camera.
I took this picture during a flight to Tromsö in Norway. It was a dedicated photography trip, and it is probably the one that I like the most from that trip. It was actually shot with a mobile phone through a plane window. Not a full frame cam, no high end lens. I was struggling a lot if I should include it in my portfolio, I feared that someone would see the difference and would blame me for that. Probably you can tell by looking close to it, that it is not shot on the best sensor out there, but that doesn’t change the point, that I like the photograph, the subject, the composition, the light.
The discussion about the importance of your gear is one, through which every photographer has to go during the long journey of maturity. Exact the same happened to me, I had a lot of different cameras, lenses and accessories. It is a sad thing, because everybody actually knows the obvious: the camera does not take a picture, it is the mind behind it. But however, we are all blind to that until a certain point. We make ourselves dependent on the big camera manufacturers and on their advertisement. They are very mighty and influence you in a lot of ways, some more obvious than other. Every new camera out there promises to be the next one which will turn yourself into a better photographer.
Actually, the camera is the least important thing. You have to understand every other piece of „Making a photograph“ before you can blame the camera for anything. If the picture isn’t sharp, it was probably you, because you haven’t used a tripod. If the composition isn’t to your satisfaction, it might be because you were checking your LCD Screen instead of being in the scene and frame it the way you really want it.
I still don’t think that using different cameras is a bad thing at all, don’t get me wrong. I think it can indeed push your creativity, e.g. using an analog camera forces you to do some things differently than a digital one and that might help your work. But I don’t think that a new camera will improve your pictures just by being technically more advanced.
In the end I am glad that someone chose a picture of mine which I took with a mobile phone (actually only a few days after deciding to show it in the portfolio), because it helped to get closer to that point where I once maybe completely independent of that gear fetish.