Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Assignment Notes-It's not about the Camera

What if the client owns the same or better camera than you do? Are they hiring the camera or the expertise? What if this subject comes up on a shoot, because they do, in fact, have a better camera than you do?

When I was only shooting 4x5 for architecture, some of my best architect clients owned "better" view cameras than I did and to top that had taken university classes from me. So they knew how to use them. I used an ancient and cheap Calumet Widefield for many many years and made no apologies for it. They weren't hiring a camera, but my 30 years of experience mastering the camera, the lighting, my vision and lastly my knowledge of design competitions and the magazine business to help them win awards and get published. It is no different now. I have one client that just bought a Nikon D3X and another with a Hassleblad Flexbody/39MP back. I use a 5DII. I have large shoots scheduled with these two clients this year. It isn't about the camera-never was and never will be. You bring allot more to a shoot than just an expensive camera.

Over the years teaching university classes and workshops, I have had many students with better equipment than me too. Does that make them better students? Sorry. Hard work and vision makes better students-not cameras. Equipment can be a limiting factor. You are not going to get largeformat quality if you use a 35mm camera, but the greatest limiting factors are lack of vision or expertise.


  1. Hi Kirk,

    I couldn't agree with you more. I make my living with a lowly 350D! In fact, 3 years and thousands of exposures later, I'm still learning how to get more from it. In some ways I think a lesser camera will make you a better photographer. I use my 350D for panoramic work. Here's an example:

    I'd really like to step up to a 5D2, but still hesitate. My equipment is light and compact which really helps when you spend a busy day lugging a tripod/camera/panhead.

    It's more about the lens, your shooting technique, your processing workflow, and how you display your work. If any one of those ingredients is bad, it doesn't matter if you have the best camera in the world.

  2. Yes, I have sen allot of less than stellar work done by the best "cameras". Nice work. What stitching program do you use.

  3. I use PTGUI. The panoramas consists of bracketed RAW exposures. Often I'll shoot a second pano exposed for the windows and manually blend them into the scene.

    Your work is great. Just curious: How much of your work nowadays is a result of your marketing efforts vs. clients coming to you because they'd seen your work elsewhere vs. old clients who rehire you?

  4. Tonnes, I am going to answer your question in the "Careers-Getting Established" thread where it fits better. Thanks for asking.


Add to Technorati Favorites