If you look at it, there are two schools of thought in photography: gear and photos. Some people are great with gear. Other people are great with making photos. Just because you’ve got an expensive camera doesn’t mean you can shoot a great photo. And it doesn’t mean you understand how to create a great photo, the idea of a moment, etc. I’ve also met a ton of photographers so into their art that barely know how to use their cameras.
Some people are just more into cameras. Other people are more into photography. There’s a huge difference. Some people are into knives, but they’re not into cooking. Other folks are into gaming, but they’re not into building their own computers. A reasonable amount of people are into cars, but not necessarily driving them. Some folks are into archery, but not necessarily geeks about bows. Someone could really like whiskey, but not care about the distilling process.
This is something we need to keep in mind. It’s fine if cameras are your hobby. You can own a bunch of cameras because you like them. Cameras are a fun hobby. If you buy them used, you’re going to probably get a great buy. More so than any other tech besides TVs, cameras are used pretty carefully. You can’t go wrong when buying a used camera the way you can with a refrigerator or something.
At the same time, photography can also be a hobby. You can be just fine with your 30-year-old camera and just enjoy the act of taking photos. Even your phone could be enough, and maybe you’d just be really into the stories of the photos, looking at them, etc. It’s an enjoyable thing for sure. Some folks on the other hand might really like paging through photos in a book.
Now here’s the bigger thing: it’s wonderful if you’re just into cameras. At the same time, your interest in photography is equally just as wonderful. But I think we need to go deep down inside our souls and figure out which one we are. You could say you’re into street photography, but you may actually just like using cameras. Similarly, you could say you love Sony cameras, but you may have never touched anything else in your time shooting photos.
Can you genuinely be into both? Sure, but not a lot of people are. If I looked at our staff, I could easily see who is more into cameras and who is more into photography. Some people are a bit of both. If I look at brand ambassadors, I can easily tell who is into photography, who is into cameras, and who are both. There are people who call themselves photographers that end up just doing tons of layering in Photoshop. At the end of the day, they could do that with any camera. So they’re mostly just into being actual photographers and photo editors.
If you’re making it this far, you’re probably wondering why this matters. I think it helps change the conversations about both cameras and photography. Some cameras are a more tactile experience. You obviously pick up a Leica for a specific experience. But when you look at a bunch of the cameras on the market, the experience is very similar. Conversely, when you look at the different types of photography, they’re very different. So why then haven’t camera manufacturers tried to make themselves as diverse as the genres of photography?