On a balmy, autumn day in the mid-1990s I started my first “real” job selling consumer electronics at a local department store. My favourite items to sell were, of course, the cameras and I did a pretty decent job of hawking them. I didn’t know much about cameras at the time except that lots of zoom had to be a good thing, and that store-brand film was cheaper, but surely just as good as that Kodak stuff. At least, that’s what the guys in the ties told me.
Over the past fifteen years I’ve spoke with a lot of people about photography, and heard a lot of interesting stories and aspirations. There’s one thing I continue to hear regularly that still bugs me though, and it usually starts off with someone saying something like, “I want a camera that takes good pictures,” or “your camera takes beautiful pictures – which one is it?”
The issue here is that the tools of the trade are being confused with the knowledge held by the user of those tools – quite like attributing a quality paintbrush to the creation of the Mona Lisa rather than the exquisite skill of Leonardo da Vinci.
It’s a harmless misconception, but one that leads many people to believe that great photographs result from expensive gear, not knowledgable, intuitive, and patient photographers.
The truth is, great photography is not limited to a certain camera. Cameras are tools and they need to be selected based on the job at hand. To put it in perspective, a landscape photographer like Peter Lik (depicted below) can be seen using equipment like the Linhof 617s ($9000), and a Hasselblad H4D-50 ($30,000).
However, he chooses this equipment because his style demands the best equipment available, he’s tremendously skilled, and because he can sell photos for up to one-million dollars each. That being said, there are countless amazing photos out there that were taken with inexpensive equipment, or even homemade pinhole cameras. A great idea, clever ingenuity, and/or rich knowledge can make great pictures out of any camera.
As for real estate photography, it is a very specific photographic job that I believe benefits more from experience than it does equipment. That being said, there are the “right” tools for the job, or at least ones that will give you the proper control required to create eye-catching photos. So if you find a listing photo that you love, don’t praise the camera – seek out knowledge and guidance from those who have learned effective shooting methods so you can produce similar results.
If you’re keen to share some of your own work, feel free to submit them to the Point2 Agent Flickr Group.