“So it doesn’t bring you joy?” is what Marie Kando would say to me if she were listening to me express my feelings on talking about camera gear in person. The situation typically happens when I’m out and about on a photo walk either testing gear or for the personal joy of it. A person will come up to me to start a discussion that will be about my camera. Then the person will find a way to spew their feelings and some sort of negativity about gear. If this isn’t the case, it will be a conversation that’s not new, or interesting. More often than not, it will be the same conversation happening over and over again. I think this is the problem with the current photography community–conversation centered on the gear you’ve got and nothing about photography as an art form. If anything, those conversations are null.
The conversations I’m talking about could perhaps be expressed in the wrong way. Despite the fact that I’m 32, some of these are delivered in condescending ways either about the gear itself or about my age. But in most situations, I feel like the person talking to me about their cameras is more or less venting. It starts that way and it stays that way. There is no escape. You can try to divert their mind and talk about their favorite photographers, but most of the time you only scratch the surface. So perhaps the problem has more to do with the fascinating and fixation around gear. I say that as the EIC of a website that talks about gear, delivers round-ups, has gear news, sways opinions, etc–but we also have always talked about art and deliver tons of it on this website. Whether or not folks tend to care about it is their problem. A bigger problem is that lots of photographers don’t necessarily care about the art of others. This isn’t the case with ALL photographers, but conversations about photography would be much more pleasant if we were discussing how Bresson would have amounted to nothing if he wasn’t a privileged man with mommy and daddy’s money who happened to rub shoulders with actual working photographers.
Here are some very important subjects I think it behooves photographers to talk about instead:
- Why are we spending so much time capturing photos and not creating them in-camera using methods that we don’t utilize? Otherwise, everything looks the same or everything that you put out on Instagram or other social media platforms are results of post-production. If that’s the case, what you do is no better than a photo editor or a retoucher.
- Why are the majority of women still not respected in the photo world?
- Why are we not doing more about documentary porn and the fact that people like to take photos and do documentary work for their own pure pleasure rather than trying to help a cause?
- What are some ways that you can communicate better with a model?
- Are you using the potential of your camera fully vs just having a phone?
- What can we do to make photojournalism more effective and actually incite action vs just getting likes and hearts on social media? That’s not supporting a cause.
- What can we do to make people understand and obey copyright laws?
These are just a few; and I think we need to discuss these more in depth rather than how one manufacturer is failing vs another.