Tool Tips

One of the problem of being acknowledged as a decent photographer, is when you potentially get mistaken for an expert. Somewhere the quality of the photograph provides them the means to decide that I am an expert on cameras. While I do not claim it — if at all, I have some knowledge of photographs. It is different. It doesn’t automatically imply I know cameras very well. They of course, choose not to read about my bio on my Facebook Page:

Always face a problem, when I say I am a photographer. People talk about lenses and cameras and filters. I think photographers should discuss photographs. Haven’t yet found a photographer who talks photographs.

My close friends ask me this question with a context; I am usually happy to help when I can. And I usually can, because I have a context, but when an acquaintance catches you at a coffee shops, introduces you as a photographer to the stranger sitting with him, and then the stranger asks you a question about lenses with too many numbers. I am lost. Completely. I really do not understand cameras as much as I think I should or as much as people believe I do. I know, it is easy to presume, as such. Very recently when I thought I should get myself a new camera, I was on the phone with a friend asking for advice. And I am more often than not – at a complete loss when people ask me about which camera they should buy.

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I think my problem relates, somewhat, to the Map–territory relation, which, for my purpose, I’d like to rename it as the Tool-craft Relation.

I once attended a workshop where the facilitator had used a modified, disposable camera to take pictures. He used images captured by this camera for a very prestigious commission he had secured. The modification, may I add, was to break open the camera, and use a string to control the exposure. (True Story)

For a very long time, I have maintained that the tool and the craft are two separate things, and while they have a relationship, it is not necessarily directly proportionate. A better camera doesn’t automatically mean better pictures, and a bad camera doesn’t automatically mean bad pictures. Good things come, not with a better tool, but with better understanding of your craft. Tools can help crafting; make it easier and convenient, but if you do not know the craft, the most sophisticated tool will be quite useless in your hand. In 2007, when I bought the camera I still use, as excited as I was, I said:

Yet, it is still a tool, as magnificent as it is. The tool can do only as much as the skill allows. The skill can be honed, only as much as the mind can train. The mind can train only as much as the heart believes.

So, what’s your tool tip?

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4 thoughts on “Tool Tips

  1. This is an excellent post, and probably more “photographers” than you might think can relate. I have gotten many excellent photographs more by accident than by skill with the equipment. I would like to think that I am learning more and more about how to control my tool (camera), but I am confident that I know a lot about composition and how to frame a good shot.

    Thanks for the post.

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    • Tarheel, thank you for the comment and welcome to Gaizabonts. I must say, it’s sweet relief to know that there are other “photographers” out there. I live in the hope of meeting a few. 🙂 I also think that intimacy with the tool is quite important – it’s sophistication is secondary.

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  2. Surely, a better camera doesn’t mean better pics. But technology has compelled the persuasion of the skill to take a backseat. We’ve become very complacent in our approach. In taking more pictures, we’ve lost the perspective.

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    • True that, I think, however, it is how people look at the end-product. They seem to be compelled to assume that the resultant art is a product of the sophistication of the tool. The ‘more pictures’ paradigm is a perfect description of what’s going on. I hardly ever see folks taking time to take a picture. They take 30-odd shots and then choose one that they like. A friend and I were recently wondering, whether we were all better, when we used film. 🙂

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