Just recently a person at a wedding I was photographing walked up to me and gave me what they thought it was a compliment, or so they thought. It went something like this: “Your pictures must be amazing, you have one of those fancy expensive cameras” … For me it was more an insult than a compliment, yes I have a very expensive camera, I have spent even more money on lenses and accessories like speed lights, strobes, light meters etc… following that analogy, I guess that Bobby Flay is an amazing cook because he has good knives! Or Leonardo Da Vinci (not that I’m comparing my work to him) was a great painter because he had a great coloring set. Trust me I think that Da Vinci’s work was amazing even when he used a piece of graphite and a sketch notebook! If technology was the answer how come uncle “Bob’s” photos are not better than mine? He sure spent more money than me on his gear.
We all know that guy, there is one in every family he spends all his retirement $$ on photo gear to take photos of his grand-children. Don’t get me wrong! I’m NOT bashing uncle Bob, he probably takes photos at all the family gathering with his expensive camera and they are probably quite good, but a professional photographer spends many hours in a week honing their skill. They are constantly taking photos even to the annoyance of other around them.
For almost any events I carry 2 cameras bodies, 3 lenses, 2 flashes, 8 memory cards, and batteries to supply enough power to a small town. I know my camera settings inside and out; last year I averaged about 450 photos a week. This week I spent 3 days in one of the most beautiful beaches of Puerto Rico, took several memory cards worth of photographs and even after all that, I do not think I got anything that met my quality standard, and will probably never come out of the Lightroom folder of my PC.
It happens to the best of us, if you read the Blog “always be prepared” you will realize that it does not matter who you are, you are bound to be un-prepared for a specific situation, but the constant practice will give you the experience to overcome a potential catastrophic situation. I was at a graduation a couple of years ago and next to me was another photographer, we were both taking pictures but almost at the critical point of the graduation, he looked distraught and confused, I figure he had a malfunction of some kind and since he was shooting with a Nikon I offered to help. He told me that he had just replaced the memory card on the camera with a new one and that in the confusion of doing it he got distracted and placed the same card back in the camera and formatted the card. I told him to immediately remove the card out of the camera, set the write protect tab on it and save it till he got home. I told him to use the manufacturer’s utility to recover the photos from the card. I got a call a couple of days later from a very grateful photographer!
I think that the experience of the photographer is a very invaluable tool, more so than his gear, a good photographer will have experiences with all kinds of situations and the combination of the knowledge gained thru those situations is what prepares a photographer to handle bad lighting, rainy days poor shooting conditions, etc.