Scott Bourne’s blog post this morning got me thinking.
I come from a family of cooks. My father is an excellent “traditional Southern” cook. My mother is a pretty good experimental cook. My youngest brother is an incredibly talented cook, and I’m not so bad at cooking myself.
To my knowledge, no one has ever said to my father, mother, brother, or to me, “This food is fantastic. You must have a great set of pots and pans.”
My father-in-law is a general contractor. For the vast majority of his life he has built homes and offices. He is quite skilled at what he does, but no one has ever said to him, “These cabinets you built are beautiful. You must have a really nice hammer.”
After returning from my visit to China, I was showing the photos to co-workers, and one of them said, “These are wonderful. You have a really good camera.” Well, yes I do, but – so? My Nikon D300 is technologically far superior to the heavy wet-plate 8×10 view camera that Ansel Adams carried around. My Canon G11 has substantially more mega-pixels than the little Leica Garry Winogrand carried around the streets of New York. But I still haven’t been able to create the kind of emotional photographs those photography greats did.
One of the most important pieces of photographic advice I ever got was this, “A camera is just a hammer – just a tool.”
Yes, there is no doubt that technology has helped improve the technical quality of the photographs we take, but nothing can substitute the artistic skill required to make an emotional photograph.
Keep that in mind.