The creative eye – photography is not really about the equipment

Written by Gary on December 29th, 2008

There is an old adage in the professional photography world that the guy with the least equipment will often be the one taking away the best images.

The reason for this is that he will have narrowed his choices down and be so familiar with his equipment that the equipment won’t be distracting him from his photography.

To demonstrate this, I suggest you check out the social documentary works of Paul Marc Joffe.

Open the main page by clicking on the blue circled A in his name (the webpage uses flash player but once loaded your patience will be rewarded with nice large imagery to fill your imagination and provide you with inspiration).

He has divided his gallery into 3 slideshows which can be accessed by clicking on their titles – Anterior, Posterior and Artifacts – derived from his medical background . Then click through each slideshow by placing your mouse on the right side of the image to display a right arrow. At the end of each slideshow just go to the middle of the image and click on menu.

What I love about his works is that the majority were created using only available light and just a simple wide angle lens on a 35mm film camera (although many were taken on a Fuji dSLR using a wide angle lens).

And yet, despite this, his slide shows reveal a wide array of creative imagery demonstrating not only his clever, intuitive use of compositional elements and timing but his ability to capture people as they are.

His last slideshow called “artifacts” tends to be more abstract urban imagery which still manages to hold your attention as you ponder his thought processes and the contents obvious impact on him and how he has been able to present it in a visually appealing image.

There is much more to creating consistently great photos than the camera or lens, it is the eye and mind behind the camera.

I am sure Paul would have achieved the same results whether he had used the 35mm film camera, his Fuji dSLR, an Olympus E510, a Nikon D3 or a Canon 5D MII. And when you looked at his images you would not be worrying about which camera was used or how much image noise there was at high ISO.

I post this to hopefully inspire others that the important thing is to get out there and take photos and not worry too much about their equipment, but rather learn to make the most of it so that it doesn’t get in your way, and above all learn to love what you have and not what you think you might need but can’t afford.


5 Comments so far ↓

  1. Geir says:

    Funny thing, but I wrote about just the same subject today, and I totally agree with what you say.
    The post is in Norwegian, so there is no reason to look it up, just thought I would mention it.

  2. Brix says:

    I couldn’t agree more… I hear lots of photographers talk about their gear and not about how they shot a particular picture.

  3. John B says:

    Gary-Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Paul Strand, Fred Picker said it or implied it. Your comments are spot-on. Most times the “boards” contain too much blabbing about which “widget” is best.

  4. Andy may says:

    I just stumbled across your site whilst looking for images taken with the 24-105mm f4l canon. Such a great site his images just work, plain and simple. I’m now thinking i should stick with my 50mm 1.4 and spend the 24-105mm money on a journey somewhere!

    Many thanks

  5. admin says:

    The 24-105mm lens is certainly nice, but the images it produces are not that different to what any kit lens can produce – I have one and I know this.
    Perhaps if anything, you should consider a cheap 21mm or 24mm manual focus lens to add to your creativity?