I’ve been a professional photographer my entire adult life. Here are my thoughts about photo gear, access and vision.
Gear: Gear talk has never really interested me. I’ve always looked at gear as the tools of my trade and used what I felt was the best tool for the job. I don’t buy gear simply because it’s new or it’s the latest. I buy it if I need it to tell the story I want to tell. I’ve been a Nikon shooter, a Canon shooter and now a Sony (mirrorless) shooter. I can’t honestly say that my favorite images or my most successful images were shot with one particular camera or brand. However, I’m most proud of the images that I obtained the hard way – before auto everything cameras or Photoshop.
Access: Access is everything and is more important today than ever before. But it’s kind of like the chicken and the egg. What comes first – a good portfolio that leads to an assignment with great access or access that leads to a good portfolio? I spent a great deal of my time at the beginning of my career shooting travel. But I don’t feel that one needs to travel to the other side of the earth in order to get great travel images. It may help (or it used to) in catching someone’s eye but a good travel photographer should be able to make good images anywhere. I learned that early in my career when legendary National Geographic photography director Bob Gilka asked me to show him what I shot in my own backyard.
Vision: I have actually grown to dislike this word because it has been overused. I think that it should go without saying that all you really have that is unique is your vision or perspective. When it comes down to it your perspective and vision is what’s worth sharing. I suppose that’s why I’ve never tried to emulate someone else’s style. I’ve always used my tools as a means to an end – the end being what I want to say or share. Styles come and go. No doubt my style has changed but it happened organically as I got older and saw things from a different perspective.
What’s most important to you? That’s something you have to find out on your own. I’ve learned a lot at workshops over the years but I’ve never taken a workshop that defined my priorities.
Note: I’m looking for subject for a project. If you are someone or know someone who has been dismissed simply because they’ve gotten older (between the ages of 40 – 60) and have a story to tell please dm me. I’m hoping to hear stories that had a happy ending because it nudged them to a better situation.
2 Replies to “Gear, Access and/or Vision”
I always find it enigmatic that whenever a photojournalist writes about the tools of trade they always seem to overlook one of the most important pieces of equipment; a notebook and pencil. Enjoy your writing…. along with your pictures.
Good point but I’m not a photojournalist per se. I’m more or a commercial shooter. But thanks for your kind words.