Knowledge or Gear?

The past two weekends I went down to the conservatory on Belle Isle. To test something, I knew to be true. What is more important, Knowledge or Gear? Does one have to have the latest and greatest gear to capture good images? The question sounds dumb to me. But there are a lot of people starting out in photography who believe this to be true. That you have to have a full frame sensor, you have to shoot RAW, you have to have professional lenses… blah, blah, blah. I feel you do not need any of these things to produce quality images. What you do need is a creative eye and to have an understanding of how to capture images properly with your gear.

I know just because you own a camera, it does not make you a photographer. For some, that maybe a bitter pill to swallow. My opinion, what makes you a photographer is having the ability to see and capture photos properly that speaks to your viewers. And the brand of the camera you use doesn’t matter, if it was shot as a RAW or Jpeg, if it was from a full frame sensor mirror-less body or from a cell phone… All those things are just tools for a photographer to capture images. Yes, gear does help. But like anything, if one does not know how to use it properly, the results will never be as good as someone who knows what he or she is doing. But I will also say bad gear will hurt you.

And to prove my point, I went down to Belle isle on two different weekends. On one weekend, I used only my iPhone 8 plus. And the other, with my 7D MK II with my 17-85 mm. I wanted my images to show three things. One, how cold it was outside using a limited color palette. Two, to show how colorful and alive it was inside the conservatory. And three, have all the images maintain my style of photography. Then in Lightroom, I stripped the EXIF data from all the images. Letting you, the reader, to try to figure out if you could tell what image was shot with what gear. I cannot stress enough how important it is to know how to use YOUR gear properly. Along with developing and nurturing YOUR creative eye.

Until next time,


6 thoughts on “Knowledge or Gear?”

  1. I like this blog entry. As someone who uses both on a regular basis, I would much rather have my gear over the cell phone. I feel rather limited on the cell but make due with what I can. How do you feel about lens that you can use for the cell phone to create depth or get closer to the subject?

    1. Thanks for the comment Mrs. Rogers:) I feel the beauty of photography with cell phones is that you can not hide behind having a shallow depth of field or being able to isolate your subject by getting closer. It forces you to use your “eye” and your knowledge of composition along with other elements of design to create images. It’s a simple and pure type of photography. What you see is what you get. I was planning on getting a small mirror-less camera to use along side my DSLR. But now that I upgraded my phone to an iPhone 8 plus, I don’t thank I’m going to. With mobile Lightroom, One Drive app, MS Word app and my SD card reader, for me, the iPhone is far more powerful tool than just a mirror-less camera.

  2. Now that was a fun exercise Steven!

    I can put it simply…a camera is just a pencil, or a brush, or a chisel…a tool the creative uses…it’s all the same. It’s the knowledge, the skill acquired, the talent learned, the countless hours of practice that makes the difference and uses the tool well. You proved this by taking really nice imagery with an iPhone and a high end camera…for you, the camera is just a creative tool in the hands of a talented artist.

    Good article…thanks for taking the time to illustrate the concept.

    Here’s an interesting case…I have a friend here in Dallas that takes fantastic macro imagery. D850 on a sliding focus stacking rack.He gets amazing images…his knowledge and gear come together remarkably into create stunning imagery.

    He showed me a few images the other day from another photographer…we were both amazed at the uniqueness of the compositions, etc. Turns out this person had connected with him on his Meetup macro site.

    So, he contacted her directly to talk about her photography and what gear she is using, etc. He thought he was talking to another macro professional. Turns out, she’s a young mom that only has an iPhone and knows nothing about the technical side of photography. But, she has an artists eye and her iPhone’…or ‘pencil’…is just the tool she uses to create really nice imagery.

    My friend said he is giving up and tossing all of his gear.

    I keep checking his trashcans. I haven’t found a D850 in there yet!

    Later, Gary

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