From time to time I will have people come up to me complimenting my gear. The most recent comment I heard was on my trip out west when a fellow told me, “You have great gear, so you must be taking some great pictures.” Yes, I had taken some photographs during that particular trip that I am rather fond of. And yes, my gear – at least when I bought it – was technically the top tiered APSC sensor DSLR on Nikon’s lineup. In technicalities, this fellow’s statement would be true. However, I do not believe in technicalities when it comes to photography. It may seem petty for me to take offense to his statement but I personally believe that my ability to create a beautiful image has very little to do with the gear I use. I believe it has to do more with my three years of hard work and dedication to my craft.
Allow me to elaborate for a moment.
Hearing these comments does not immediately place me into an uncontrollable, Hulk-like rage, sending me off into the nearest city to destroy buildings until I am calm again. Yet they do not make me feel good about myself and my abilities as an artist either. All these comments do is take the years of hard work I have spent training my eye to see more clearly, all the time spent honing my skills, and effectively ball them up, tossing them into the trash like they mean nothing at all. It does not matter if I am using the first point-and-shoot camera I ever bought or if I am using my Nikon D7200. Regardless of the camera I hold in my hands, I can create an image I deem worthy of sitting in my portfolio online.
You are a world class chef using the best gear out there to cook with top-of-the-line ingredients. You have an award-winning TV show with millions of viewers every night it airs. You’re making bank, as the cool kids say. Now imagine if a critic – also world renowned – comes up to you after the cameras stop rolling; he tastes your creation and all he says is:
“You have some great gear and the best ingredients – its no wonder this is so good!”
Even if the chef didn’t show it to those around him, later on that night I can promise you that he would lie in bed and dwell on those words. He would overthink every meal he had ever prepared, every single moment of his life that he had dedicated to getting where he is right then and there. It would eat him alive; maybe he would begin to really overthink, making himself believe that the only reason people eat at his restaurant was due to the gear and ingredients he uses.
Think about that for a moment, no matter how brief.
It does not matter what you do in life, whether a cook at McDonald’s or a neurosurgeon saving millions of lives. If somebody comes up to you and tells you the only reason you are so good at what you do is because of the equipment you use, it will hurt and I am sure you will think about it for weeks to come, if not years. Would you still believe in yourself and your abilities? Or would the confidence in your work decide to plummet?
I do not write this to make you feel bad.
If you have ever said words similar to what I had written above, please do not feel as though you should apologize to me or anyone else. Instead, I simply ask that you think about the impact your words can have on someone’s mental state. Words that may not have an effect on you could really damage somebody else’s way of thinking. It could permanently scar them to the point where they may not want to continue with their talent, with their career path, with their life.
I hear comments about my gear being great all the time with people thinking its why my photos are how they are.
Just because I hear these words, it does not mean that I will dwell on them. I know my worth and I know that the years I have spent honing my skills, crafting my abilities, does not go unnoticed: even if it is just my mom noticing it. (Thanks mom!) As an artist, as an entrepreneur, as a craftsman – whatever it is you go by, if you ever hear words such as these that bring you down, think of all the hard work you have put into your craft. Forget these words, for “sticks and stones may break my bones but
Words will never hurt me.”