I Used to Love Photography

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry Leave a Comment

I used to love photography.

I shot way too many frames, made just as many mistakes and I couldn’t care what anybody thoughts of my images.  I thought they were fantastic and I was loving the experience of being out in the field with my camera.

Wild Eye - Gerry van der Walt

An image from many years ago with my Nikon D50.  I loved it!

The more I shot the more I learned.  The more I learned the more I shot and the cycle continued.  I was loving it!

During this time I never, not once, worried about what camera I was using.  I didn’t worry about what brand of camera I had in my hand or that there were better models out there.

Then I started reading online forums and review sites and this all changed.

Suddenly my camera wasn’t good enough anymore.

Suddenly, based on what all these online ‘experts’ were saying, other people’s images were better than mine because they had better cameras.

Suddenly I was thinking that I would enjoy photography so much and create much better images if I could only get one of… the new cameras.

Now let me tell you from experience – it does not work like that.

A new camera does not mean better images or more photographic enjoyment.

It does however start you down a dangerous road of gear whoring and a never ending need to always have the best equipment.  Not to create better image, but to have the best equipment.

I’ve seen it again and again.

A photographer gets really into their photography and starts growing as an artist.  Produces great images.  They then get caught up in the whirlpool of online forums and upgrade their camera.  Then a little while later they upgrade again.  And possibly again.  The problem however is that when you look back at their work, both from a technical and artistic point of view, you can almost not see a difference regardless of what camera they were using but hey… they have the best gear on the market!

Believe me it’s a slippery slope and one that tempts every single photographer out there.

So many of the Canon fanboys and Nikon groupies focus so much on the camera they have, or want to have, in their hands that they forget to focus on the basics of what makes photography fun.  And let’s be honest, the continuous brand banter gets seriously annoying, boring and pointless after a while.

I am in the lucky position to have access to some amazing photographic equipment from various brands.

Nice?

Yeah for sure but recently I found myself being, let’s call it, disappointed that I could not take a high end, pro camera with me on a trip.

Why?

Because damnit I have to have that particular camera in order to produce great image.

Wrong Gerry!!

It does – not – work – like – that.

Trying to keep up with the marketing companies, online forums and brand ‘ambassadors’ is a bad idea.  It’s going to keep your focus on specs rather than composition.  On gear rather than the craft.  If you think that your images are better because of your new  camera – you’re wrong.

With so many people sharing images online why should we worry about what camera we are using?

The best thing you can do for your own photography is this…

Be happy with the equipment you have, focus on the basics of photography and get back to enjoying the reason you picked up a camera in the first place.  It wasn’t about the camera but about the need to create something, to capture a moment!

I’m looking forward to getting back out in the field for some personal photography time.

Regardless of what camera I have with me because… I still love photography!

Until next time.

Gerry van der Walt

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Comments 0

  1. Adrian Wright

    So true Gerry! Just bought a D600 and 70-200 VR2 – and thinking about how much I enjoyed it when I started shooting with a D50 and 70-300 VR. Good to keep things in perspective.

  2. Johan van Eeden

    Hi Gerry,
    I couldn’t agree with you more and have been down the same slippery slope (like the alliteration there) of chasing top of the range names and models. For me its now more important to get to know my camera completely and understand what it can and cannot do. Also to “think” about what I am photographing and what I want to get out of it or do with the final product. The more I get into the technical settings the more I am beginning to understand what I am able to do with my camera and the more pleasing the end result usually is for me. We must of course not forget about what glass you have on the front as for me (and this is my personal opinion) this is more important than what camera name or body I have. Thanks for your thought provoking and inspiring blogs posts. I have learned so much from them. Johan

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      Gerry

      Thanks for your comment Johan! You mention – the more you understand the technical settings the more pleasing the results. That’s exactly what it’s about. Learn the basics and apply those to your photography rather than chasing kit with the hope of creating better mages. Glad you are enjoying the blogs and look forward to shooting with you in future.

  3. Etienne Oosthuizen

    Geez Gerry, I feel you have written this post just for me … and you did hit a nerve. I have become so over whelmed with what the other guys are doing that I have forgotten about my passion for wildlife and photography … to the point that I am on the verge of cutting all ties with social media and the various internet forums to rekindle that passion again … just to stop looking at others and just have fun again … great post.

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      Gerry

      Thanks Etienne! You said it buddy – rekindle the passion again! Very important! Good luck and look forward to see where your passion takes you!

  4. Eileen Fletcher

    Well put Gerry, we all tend to forget that it is you, the person behind the camera and the glass that makes or breaks the image. You can have the best camera in the world but if you dont “see” the image, you will not get the shot. We all live in a world of consumerism that dictates that we must have the biggest and the best, time to get off the spinning wheel. It is always nice to get ideas from what better photographers than you, have done, and it is wonderful to have someone like you that is so happy to share his knowledge with us.

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  5. Trevor Hardaker

    Excellent post Gerry and I agree with you 100%. I certainly don’t have all the latest and greatest camera equipment, but then again, I would rather spend my spare cash on traveling and getting to new places with different wildlife to photograph. My passion is, first and foremost, wildlife and then only photography. I often find people being disappointed when they ask me what gear I use and then hear the answer – it’s almost like I don’t cut it with them then because I am not using the latest gear. It’s a little sad that so many people out there judge photographers by the gear they use rather than the photographs that they produce. Sure, I would love to get a newer camera body and upgrade my lenses to the latest lighter lenses, but does it really matter? I still have so much to learn about photography and that is not going to change with new equipment at all. At the end of the day, as long as I am still enjoying the sightings and taking the photos, that’s all that really matters to me…!

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      Gerry

      Thanks for the comment Trevor. Your last sentence sums it up perfectly! I would rather go to the Masai Mara without a camera and experience the magic of the place rather than sitting at home with a high end camera with nothing to take pictures of. It’s about getting to great destinations and capturing the moments with whatever gear you have at your disposal! 🙂

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  6. Kelly

    Gerry-

    Well written and well said! I think wanting the-next-best-thing is a trap a lot of photogs fall into…I know I have, repeatedly! Especially after I read online forums like you mentioned! I did outgrow my T1i and my images improved drastically when I upgraded but I also started with the lowest level DSLR available. I love my ‘new’ body so much I don’t foresee myself ever wanting more!

    I will recall this article when I feel myself getting equipment envy and concentrate on having fun and improving myself before I improve my equipment 🙂

    Thanks for such a relevant article!

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  7. Brett Ellis

    One of the great things about being an old timer is that you loose the urge to buy the new technical wizardry ‘cos its damn challenging 🙂 & sticking with what you know is comforting … like an old pair of veldskoens. Most important for me, is to form a relationship with your equipment. Two years ago I lost my 50D to the salty sea of Mozam trying to capture epic fishing battles. Insurance replaced it with a 7D as the 50D was out of production. One year later I couldn’t stand it any longer, I had to have a 50D back in my hands so I asked Orms to keep an eye out for a good copy. It arrived 2 months ago and I’m like kid with his very first pony, I’m happy to have an old mate in my hands again!! Make no mistake I am very grateful to the insurance company for the 7D 🙂 as I have gotten to know and trust her over the year. Trevor Hardaker’s advice is some of the best if you into wildlife, spend the cash on getting out there. Light & Sight to all.

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