Two photographs made with two very different, but unique, cameras.
Can you spot the difference? And, should the camera make any difference to how we judge these photographs?
I think sometimes we feel we need a special camera to make a great photograph. And while I do understand that at times we need specialised equipment for particular results, in most cases the camera should not matter. But is that true with these two pictures?
I worry that our fixation on equipment comes at the expense of us developing our vision and creative skills which I think are far more decisive to the outcome than any camera we might choose to use.
Here are two photographs below, both of which I love. They are artful expressions of my love of the outdoors. Both would sit well in a body of work and both will look beautiful mounted and framed.
For this outcome the camera should not matter… or should it?
If I was to say that one of these photographs below was made with my standard camera, a Mamiya 7II, while the other photograph was made using a priceless 1934 Linhof 5×4 handmade, brass and cherrywood hand-held field camera. Suddenly, ‘the camera’ can become part of ‘romancing’ the story of how the photograph was made. And it can influence how we might judge each photograph.
Yes the camera can and should be part of our personal enjoyment of our journey of photography and yes, the camera does make for a very rich and emotional connection to the process of making a photograph.
We are human and our feelings and judgements can be very influenced by any story around the camera. But don’t for one moment think you need a special camera to make beautiful art photography.
The reality is, my 1934 5×4 Lindof camera does not exist. I used my iPhone. But when I tease people, by telling them that one of these photographs was made with a priceless 1934 camera, their eyes light up in awe. Which perhaps they should not, because it should not make any difference.
So which photograph was made with my Mamiya 7II and which was made with my iPhone?
I’m not telling.
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