What kind of camera do you use?

What kind of camera do you use?

This is another question I get a lot. And while it's valid, I think it also gives the illusion that what kind of camera do you use is a more important factor than it really is. I think someone can learn with just about any camera. Often times the camera itself can become part of the style. For instance someone like myself who photographs nature and likes lots of detail might lean towards a camera like I have now, a Nikon D810. It offers high resolution with big files that provide lots to work with. Someone else who is more interested in candid portraits, street photography, or sports might choose a camera with different qualities altogether. 

I also find that the type of camera I am using influences what subjects and style I want to photograph, and vice-versa. When I use my iPhone for example, I tend to like different subject matter then when I use my "real" camera. With the phone I'm likely to photograph much simpler every day subjects. Things I find, or whatever happens to be right in front of me. Often this is because the phone is the camera that I have with me wherever I go, while my main camera might be at home. I don't have as much control over the different technical aspects, things tend to be more automatic. But that in itself allows for different creativity. There's a certain freedom that happens when you're not thinking about what shutter speed you need to use, or what the right lens choice is, or is the exposure where you want it to be. It's good to learn all these things, and I'm glad I know them. But it's also good sometimes to be able to set them aside and just have a little fun. 


Old Car in Guffey Colorado


A good example of that is that is this photo that I took recently. I stumbled across this little antique shop/junk yard in a small town and immediately gravitated to this old dilapidated car out front. Although I took some photos with my regular camera, I tend to like the photos I took with the smart phone because they were more spontaneous. Plus, I was able to manipulate them a little bit try some different effects, and then quickly post them to my Facebook page all right there, without having to go home and process them on my computer first. So, I like the immediacy of it. I experienced something then was able to share it quickly. That adds a different dimension which is fun, and helps me creatively breakout of the box I normally work in. In that instance, it was the best camera to use


Crabapple Blossoms in a Puddle


Another example of this is the above image. It is a shot of some Crabapple blossoms floating in a small puddle in my driveway one windy, wet spring morning. I needed to leave and didn't have time, and wasn't inclined to go get my "real" camera so I took a few quick shots with the iPhone. I edited them a little on the iPad later and then shared one on my Facebook page. I liked the simplicity of doing all of that, and once again the phone was camera enough for what I wanted, and a good tool to tell the story.



The above image is another example of the phone being the right tool, only that time it was the ONLY camera that I had with me. I was house-sitting for some friends, and I had failed to grab my camera bag before leaving for their place. They live in a heavily forested area just north of Colorado Springs, and when I awoke that first morning a thin layer of fog was lifting, and the sun shone through with a golden brilliance, casting rays of light through the dark early-morning pine forest. I grabbed my iPhone and captured a few quick images and I was able to edit them later on the phone to really capture a sense of that beautiful morning. I was grateful that I had it, otherwise this amazing scene would have been relegated to just memory.

I think practicing the skills of being a photographer is possible with any camera that you use.  What's most important is finding a subject matter that you like to photograph and practicing taking photos, a lot. In time you will develop a personal style and your own viewpoint as you work with it. If you have a camera that allows you some control over shutter speed, f-stop and other parameters then it allows you to see how an image is made, or can be changed with the different choices you make, and that will aid you in learning more about the craft. To me, that's the biggest part of learning photography, and not necessarily what kind of camera. So for the people who ask me that question in hopes of finding the right camera for themselves so that they can produce better photos, I would say, find subject matter that you really enjoy photographing, photograph it a lot, practice on your fundamental skills, and your photographs will become better in time. Ultimately the popular saying in photography holds true; "the best camera you own is the one you have with you".