Your Gear vs The World: Don’t Give Into To Gear


Soulful balladeer with many credits to his name. (c) kdmorris photography

Will Downing • Soulful balladeer with many credits to his name.
(c) kdmorris photography

I recall during a few concerts I was covering, either for the artist, venue, media or just because I was there, when a few photographers would look over at me and ask: “Hey, what are you shooting with?”

Depending on the era, my answer grew from the following: ‘Canon T50…Canon AE1 Program…Canon A2e…Canon 30D…Canon 70D…Canon 5D MK II…’ over the years, my bodies changed as well as my lenses.

My early answers and their facial expressions made me feel as if I didn’t belong there, to the point where they felt the need to pull out pocket albums or (later) display their digital images and ask to compare mines to theirs. Well, some of those cats got their feelings hurt because I was blessed with “an eye” as it’s called in the photography world.

Because I had proof of life that ranked among theirs, I pretty much took their condescending attitudes and flipped it into respect, be it genuine or feigned – they stopped asking me “…What are you shooting with?” and started asking me: “Let me see some of your work…” and “are you shooting this or that event?”

Understand that there are gear hounds and photographers whose lack of confidence and talent is masked by big “gear” when humility is just one click away.

Don’t be intimidated by what another photographer has in his/her hands, just think of it as someone with a drivers license, but can’t drive on the freeway, sticking to the side streets and calling them “short cuts.” They have the knowledge but lack the ability.

– kdmorris
photographer

10 thoughts on “Your Gear vs The World: Don’t Give Into To Gear

  1. Very true. I used to get that a lot. Photographers get judged quick by their camera. It’s kind of programmed that way by how cameras are categorized nowadays.

    Amateur, advanced, pro-sumer, enthusiast, professional, etc.. so if you have a rebel they think you are an amateur when the camera has never made the photographer. I used to proudly say what I used as a way for them to see that skill and education overrides whatever camera you use.

    I use to use my Samsung GX1 all the time which is a 6MP camera that shoots about 3 frames a second. I remember doing a prom with it when a professional photographer came up to me and laughed, then for some reason showed me the back of his Nikon as if to say, “this is what a professional image looks like.” Years later, we are now friends but I still remember how he thought his camera made him the better photographer!

    Great Post! We all know you have mastered your craft well enough to use an IPhone and still amaze us lol.

  2. I had this problem when I got back into photography and would show up at events or call about being a second shooter with a Nikon D3200 even though I had all top glass. I would get turned down for work just by a phone call without them seeing my work at all. When it comes to shooting concerts I have a natural eye thanks to being a musician all of my life performing on small to huge stages for 30+yrs. I pretty much know exactly what an artist or musician will do on stage and where to catch them. But you are absolutely right.
    I think natural eye has an advantage over the trained due to the ability to anticipate energy, emotion, and moments. I recently shot a concert and met another photographer who was working the pit while I snuck my camera with the general public. He happen to see me shooting and gave me his card to as he said “check out what real shots look like from the pit”. When I did look at his website, he’s pictures didn’t say anything or tell a story. They were technically sound and creative post but didn’t capture what was going on. He chatted me up about his Nikon D4s (a $6k body) and all his lenses. He continued to make a comment about my Nikon D610 was a good “starter” camera for a hobbyist. Well, long story short he came to my site and saw my shots from the very same night and wondered how I got them and what was I looking for when I shot them.
    While I am still trying to break into the concert shooting business I am learning more and more it’s very much like being a musician. Lots of snooty shooters out there with big budget gear but not the talent to capture what is really going on around them.

  3. I had this problem when I got back into photography and would show up at events or call about being a second shooter with a Nikon D3200 even though I had all top glass. I would get turned down for work just by a phone call without them seeing my work at all. When it comes to shooting concerts I have a natural eye thanks to being a musician all of my life performing on small to huge stages for 30+yrs. I pretty much know exactly what an artist or musician will do on stage and where to catch them. But you are absolutely right.
    I think natural eye has an advantage over the trained due to the ability to anticipate energy, emotion, and moments. I recently shot a concert and met another photographer who was working the pit while I snuck my camera with the general public. He happen to see me shooting and gave me his card to as he said “check out what real shots look like from the pit”. When I did look at his website, he’s pictures didn’t say anything or tell a story. They were technically sound and creative post but didn’t capture what was going on. He chatted me up about his Nikon D4s (a $6k body) and all his lenses. He continued to make a comment about my Nikon D610 was a good “starter” camera for a hobbyist. Well, long story short he came to my site and saw my shots from the very same night and wondered how I got them and what was I looking for when I shot them.
    While I am still trying to break into the concert shooting business I am learning more and more it’s very much like being a musician. Lots of snooty shooters out there with big budget gear but not the talent to capture what is really going on around them.

  4. It took some time before I understood better gear does not make me a better photographer however as an amateur you get the feeling from the pro’s you want your photography to reach this level than its time to step up your game. You are absolutely correct you need to have “an eye”.

  5. I remember going to my first class put on by big name photographers and felt overwhelmed and “out gunned” by the gear used by other photographers there. I strolled in with my Canon T3i determined to learn. There were two female photographers there. The first lady was short and dry and told me if I wanted to compete, I needed to get a 5D MarkII. The other photographer there was Lou Freeman. She was the best and quickly reassured me that time and skill would be my best tools. Thanks to her, I’m still shooting. I’m better than where I was but not where I want to be, there for I shoot on.

  6. I agree wholeheartedly. However, some clients have an expectation of larger pricier gear. That expectation isn’t always based upon what they heard or read. It’s sometimes based upon the gear with which other pros have used to photographed them. Not having the same gear or comparable gear, might not lose you that current job, but it definitely may prevent you from working with that client again.

  7. Great subject….I have been shooting for 20+ years. I shoot mostly sports. I also do documentary work, some high fashion and a lot of HBCU band and dancer work. I have found that there is a segment of the photographer community that has a snobbish/elitist viewpoint. They tend to have a 400 2.8 or 500 4.0 on the sideline coupled with the latest 70-200 2.8 and the 16-35 2.8 and the Mark IV. I can tell you from experience that these folks are greedy shooters who blast away at 10-12 seconds a frame with no regard for real composition, correct exposure or even awareness of who to shoot or why….More importantly they are necessarily positioned to get the optimum shot many times…They are working off an assignment sheet…I pretty much can match them or exceed their work with my 12-year old Canon 70-200 2.8 non-IS lens, Sigma 120-300 2.8 and 17-55 2.8 lenses…It more about knowledge of the sport than how expensive your gear is…I don’t like shooting with a 500 4.0 or 400 2.8 because the angle of view is so narrow and I find myself missing shots because I have too much lens. I look at pics daily in newspapers and many sports magazines that are c- work at best….Websites are the worst at publishing bad work….Given what I shoot primarily, you have to have high quality gear…You just don’t need the newest/latest to get the job done. I am comfortable in my skin and maybe is because I have more than 2,000 published sports photo credits….

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