It’s Not ONLY About the Camera

One of the things that I hear people talk about all the time is the only way to take great photos is to use an expensive camera. Although having a good camera can help with taking good photos, it’s not the only piece that makes for a great image, as a matter of fact, it’s not even the most important part.

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” – Ansel Adams. This quote is more true than most people realize, the key to making great images is not the camera, it’s the person operating the camera. In this tech intensive world too many times people put the emphasis on the technology and not the person working with it.

You the artist are the most important part of making any great image and the sooner you figure that out, the better off you’ll be. The human eye can see things that the camera cannot and the human imagination can visualize the scene a certain way. What we do with the camera is try to translate what we see and feel into a timeless moment that others can share when they view the finished product.


I do have a small arsenal of cameras that I use, anything from a GoPro Hero3+, to my Sony NEX6, to my iPhone 6 Plus, to the Canon 50D, 1D Mark II and my 5D Full frame. All of these are just tools, these are my paint brushes if you will, but they cannot make a great image on their own. I am the one that sees the scene, the image in my mind and what the final product will look like, the cameras can do none of this.

One of the things that Damon Sauer and Ted Fisher talked about this past week on the Photo Live: Get Technical was proper exposure, making sure you have the right pieces of the ‘Holy Trinity’ in photography. The shutter speed, aperture and ISO are how we make the exposure the way it is supposed to be to make the statement we want.


As I shared during this Live event, the one thing I do all the time is shoot 2 1/3 ticks below my camera meters ‘perfect’ exposure point. I do this because when I do my post production, I want to manipulate the Highlights and Shadows to bring out more details in my finished image. But again, this is a PERSONAL preference and not something the camera can do on it’s own. My cameras are tool, they do not have a mind of their own, they don’t have an imagination and they cannot visualize the finished product, only I can do that.

In this week’s article I shared two images that I shot earlier this year. The first one I took with my iPhone 5S after a co-worker told me that you cannot take a great photo with a smartphone. The second is one I took of a bumble bee on a flower bush in front of my home. I shot that one with a mis-matched set up. I used my Sony NEX6 with my Canon EF-S 60mm F/2.8 Macro lens. Both of these images help to prove my point, it’s more about you than the camera.