“You’ve got a great camera and it takes awesome images.”
A person I met yesterday happened to say this to me; and I retorted with the fact that when you go to a restaurant you only get the quality of food that you eat because of the oven. In some cases that’s true such as with a clay oven or brick oven, but in other cases it’s purely non-sense.
At another point in the day (I was at the Mermaid Day Parade here in Brooklyn) another friend told me that the reason why people were so obliging to have their portrait taken was because of my camera. At the moment, I was using a Nikon D810; but I assured him that it’s absolute non-sense.
Big cameras can have an intimidation factor and for many years clients only wanted to see that their pros were using Profoto, Canon, Nikon, etc. But the understanding of this has changed a lot, and in a world where million dollar ad campaigns are done with a camera that fits into your pocket and syncs with your watch, the idea that a big camera intimidates people isn’t so true except when you’re dealing with very large format images.
No photographer should ever be the one that sells themselves based on the camera that they’re using. If someone else buys the same camera, then how will you differentiate yourself. The way to always make yourself different is to actually build not only your photography skills, but also your people skills.
In an explanation to my other friend that had his camera, I told him that the only thing that you need to do is very politely ask someone for an image. The way to get an in to do this is to give them a slight compliment on a specific accessory or feature. For example, at the parade many people had awesome make-up and that’s a starting point. If the person asks to have the image afterward, you can then further state that you two can work together to take even more and better photos that they’ll appreciate it. Again, they’ll oblige. After this, work with them on poses, the background, and bring out who they are. This works not only at parades, but also just in general in life. It’s a social skill that requires you to realize that people are all just people–and we’ve got a predisposed notion to be social with one another.
So what’s the endpoint? If you can convince someone that you can actually do a job correctly, and you really truly can, they’ll have complete trust in you and it won’t be about the intimidation factor of needing the latest full frame camera with a big giant lens and needing to put yourself in debt for a while. Bigger cameras at the end of the day can’t do anything without an operator.