A Long Way To Go: A Rant
It’s been a gear-intensive week for me personally, as well as on the blog. So in the interest of balance and getting this sermon out before I burst, here’s a change of direction to close out the week.
We keep getting told by the camera-makers and gadget-mongers that you just need a great (new! shiny!) camera and the rest is easy. Shoot like a pro, they say, all you need is this new camera. It used to be hard, but not now. Now the camera has face-detection and auto-focus and light-meters that Stephen Hawking made with pixie dust and the help of VooDoo.
Rubbish. It’s NOT easy. It’s hard to master a craft – it takes a lifetime. It’s a journey of many small steps. Companies flogging their gear under the spell of this nonsense ought to be ashamed of themselves. Why? Because we keep believing them and buying their latest gear and latest program, and of course we need it to be better (we do, don’t we?!) – but it doesn’t make us better and countless amateurs who passionately loved photography when they first picked up a camera are now giving up in frustration. Or worse, resigning themselves to being mediocre.
Just once I want to hear a manufacturer say, you know what, this new camera will make a really tough craft just a little easier – it’ll give you a fighting chance – but in the end it’s just that, a craft. It takes a lifetime to master and while that will make the impatient ones discouraged it ought to give the rest of us hope – this stuff isn’t cloaked in secrecy, it doesn’t take a secret handshake – it just takes time, and the kind of work you’d put in if you wanted to play the violin. No violin plays itself, no camera makes photographs by itself. All it takes is time, and in the meantime there’s the thrill of discovery and self-expression for the sake of it.
So if you’re discouraged and wonder why it’s so hard sometimes, know this: it’s tough – in varying degrees – for all of us, for anyone that wants to be good at something. We’re in this together. So settle in, you’ve got a long way to go but a long time to do it in. We all do. Now, let’s all take a breath, stop buying new gear and get to work learning our craft.
Repeat after me, Gear is Good. Vision is Better…
Go shoot something you love. Have a great weekend.