Whenever people ask me about my photography, I always tell them I’m a hobbyist and do not shoot professionally. I get to shoot photos when I want, where I want, how I want, and I don’t have to cater to anyone’s preference. Although I’m not a professional photographer, I certainly would like to shoot like a professional, and I have invested quite a bit of my time and income into this hobby in the past four year. It has been fun and fulfilling, but the one thing I find most amusing is perhaps many people would complement the gears photographers use rather than their skills

Some people assume that the secret of becoming a good photographer is to invest in a really nice camera, and photographers often hear people complementing their cameras rather than their skills and creativity. It is not uncommon to see people opening a conversation with a photographer with “Oh, that’s a very beautiful photo you got there. You must have a very nice camera!” Although most photographers would laugh it off, some may feel offended even if they know these people mean well and are just complimenting their works.

Taking photos used to be a very tedious thing that only trained professionals are capable of, but thanks to digital technology it is now as simple as point and click. Today, almost everyone has access to a camera whether it is a DSLR, a digital compact camera or a smartphone. However, without basic understanding in photography, one will not be able to create good photos even if he or she is given a high-end DSLR. People grossly underestimate the amount of work that goes into each image, such as composition, lighting, setup and postediting.

In the image below, aside from composition, one must also take into consideration the direction and intensity of light, overall color temperature and contrast, and postediting options to bring out the details. You’ll also need additional accessories like tripod and shutter remote because this is a composite image of two separate shots at different exposure setting. It is certainly not something that can easily be done by simply owning a very nice camera.

Sunset

It is true that a good camera helps, but it is the effort and creativity one puts into photography that makes him or her a successful photographer. In fact, many people own expensive, high-end DSLRs, yet the work they produce are not as good as they could be while trained photographers could take very interesting photos using just Polaroid cameras or smartphones. Here is a very interesting article where the author did a simple experiment to illustrate how a smartphone and a point-and-shoot camera can produce almost identical result as a DSLR, and how a DSLR produces uninteresting photos with improper composition.

Like complementing a chef’s knifes and pots, it is awkward to attribute a photographer’s success to the camera. It is no wonder why some photographers find creative ways to respond to people complimenting their cameras.

“That’s an amazing photo, you must have a very nice camera!”

“Thank you, your mouth makes very flattering comments.”