There was a time when I felt a lot more connected to my own photography, partially because I felt like every photograph had a creative collaborator. Oftentimes, it was me, the subject in front of me, and my camera. While it seems crazy to personify and give life to your camera, it truly is an essential part of what helps you make your photographs. A painter uses paint brushes, but they usually only have one palette. Cooks have many knives, but they also have one tool that they find to be very, particularly perfect for most things that they do. That’s a reason why I think it’s a great idea for photographers to name their cameras.
When I used to own a Canon 5D Mk II, I named her Dahlia. She helped me found this website over 14 years ago, test other cameras, and overall just do so much more. Without that camera, I wouldn’t have been able to build and do so many other things.
But by giving my Canon 5D Mk II a name, I truly felt like there was a creative collaborator unlike anything else that I’ve worked with. Sometimes, the process of taking photos was me, my camera, and whatever else was in front of us. But no matter what, we were always able to get the shot. There’s something to be said here about how all of those cameras do such a great job and that any camera these days can realistically get the shot. But some of them require more work from the photographer while others don’t as much.
Perhaps this is because I’m an extroverted person more than an introverted person. However, it’s always a nice feeling to know that I’m not alone when I create images. Some photographers want to be alone — they adore the fact that it’s just them and the camera. But the camera is a collaborative tool that you use to make your images. You can make it with any camera, but some cameras are just right for you.
The other day, I was walking with a friend who spotted the Hasselblad camera that I had around my chest. She told me about how she used to work on film photography sets and how if the camera broke down, the entire shoot would stop. And in some cases, the camera needed to be shipped to Europe to get it fixed.
Ultimately, if you own a camera or two cameras, consider naming them. They’re your creative partners and collaborators. And if they’re not working, then you clearly can’t. If you give it a name and take care of it accordingly, it will possibly rewire in your brain how you maintain and care for your creative collaborator: in this case, your camera.
If it’s starting to not perform as well, then perhaps do some maintenance, like cleaning the sensor or the lens contacts. If it’s starting to die, charge it and let it get its fill. Let it go to sleep only after a long period of time; you wouldn’t want to go to deep sleep only to be awoken very often. Just think about how cranky you would be.
I know some of these sound silly, but consider your camera’s strengths and weaknesses. Then, give it a name, and make it an essential part of your creative process.