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Put a camera in front of a street photographer in a given situation, and they will use it based off of the camera and lens’s specific strengths and characteristics. Yes, gear is cool–and it can help you get specific and specialized images, but it isn’t the end all be all for street photography. The most important part of taking a picture is the photographer that composes, frames, and manipulates the images to get a specific look. However, street photographers for some odd reason love to chat about gear and how amazing it is.

Yes, gear is cool. But not many people can tell which image was taken with a Leica or a Fujifilm camera. The debating back and forth along with the gearhounding is unnecessary. If I were to tell you straight up what the best camera for street photography is I would probably say the iPhone and Nexus 5. Why? Because they’re always available, have entire scenes in focus, deliver images that can easily be manipulated in a whole number of ways, and there are people who shoot with them that make their living or supplementary income from them.

With this said, there are loads and loads of street photographers that don’t accept or validate the work of many mobile shooters.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer MyMiggo camera strap large review images (2 of 9)ISO 4001-320 sec at f - 4.5

Every photographer needs to start somewhere. But when they’re new, photographers also go through an exploratory phase where they need to find themselves. Unfortunately, not many take guidance or try to find ways to actually become better in the grand scheme of the photo world. Instead, they get sucked into traps and never find a way to get out of them to continue to evolve.

Here how you can spot those traps and how to get out of them.

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Model: Grace Morales

Model: Grace Morales

If you have fancy new photography gear, the important thing to do now is to get out and shoot with it. This is how you eventually come to justify a purchase to yourself after spending all that money on that new lens or camera. While you’re going to need to go out and find your own creative inspiration, it always helps to have a bit of guidance when it comes to actually shooting better portraits.

We’ve been publishing a lot of roundups on gear and the gear that you may need as the year rounds itself down to a close. But in order to actually do something with that gear, we’re rounding up tutorials and tips that we’ve published this year as well.

And this one will help you shoot better portraits.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 7D MK II review product images (2 of 10)ISO 4001-30 sec at f - 4.0

If you were a painter, what would you prioritize: selling paintings or buying new brushes?

You want to shoot photos like a pro. Heck, everyone wants to shoot like a pro. It’s a common statement in the photography world, but it’s very, very misunderstood. When someone says that they want to shoot like a professional, the common vernacular and industry in general has been positioning that statement more towards the gear. Gear: yes, it’s cool. We drool over it. This site is guilty of it too: it brings in traffic numbers!

But to truly shoot like a pro requires you to dissect what they do. Professional photographers spend a very little amount of their time behind the camera and more in front of clients, developing concepts, in front of a computer doing tasks, managing budgets, paying taxes, etc. To shoot like a pro, you’ll need to spend less time shooting photos and even less time worrying about new gear because you’re going to be so stuck doing many other tasks.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon MR14 II ring flash review sample images (12 of 12)ISO 1001-125 sec at f - 9.0

A photographer can stick with the same gear for their entire life and still improve on what they do. And there are many ways that you can get better without new gear if you simply just have the motivation. Are you ready?

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer CES 2014 MeFOTO phone adapter (7 of 10)ISO 8001-60 sec at f - 3.2

Dear iPhoneographers,

You create compelling work. I know you may hear this all the time, and I know that you’ve got all the art buyers in the Upper East Side, Chelsea and Bushwick around your fingers. So I want to tell you something: congratulations. You’ve seriously done a terrific job of showing the world that art is what comes first. It absolutely does come before gear, and a creative vision will always win out over someone toting around a 5D without a creative vision. As a creative, I want to thank you for making the world realize that don’t need the best gear in the world to create compelling imagery.

But at the same time, I want you to be well aware of your placement in the art world. Your prints in the galleries are beautiful, and I don’t think that I can say that enough. I want you to know, however, about what I’m actually capable of doing with a dedicated camera. I’m a creative with a creative vision and I will express my creativity in nowhere near as fast a pace as yours. What you’ll get from me, however, is work that took time, in which I debated whether I should crop in just a bit more, flip the image, or edit it a completely different way.

Beyond that, I want you to know that if I ever get back into shooting weddings, engagements, events or into fully shooting fashion campaigns again that I will never show up to a shoot with my Nexus 5 or the latest victim of Bendgate. I will do everything I can to work with a client to create my own lighting, deliver the vision and product that they want, and in the end, I will push my art over the fact that I’m using the latest camera from Sony.

I think that as much as you’ve become entranced with not needing a dedicated camera to create excellent images, you’ve instead become so enthralled by the other type of technology: your phone. If we switch equipment for a month, can you deliver the same work that you did? Does that make you truly an artist or some person that shoots an image, applies a filter, and wins over the hearts of curators everywhere.

In closing, what I’m saying is that you’re a creative and that I’m a creative, but that creativity should be the main priority. In the same way you can wow art buyers with your efficient and affordable way to capture an image, I can give a bride and groom photos that they’ll cry over years from now.

Maybe we can talk about it one day over coffee–which we will both then attempt to photograph beautifully.

Sincerely,

A photographer