The digital SLR crowd makes for an unmistakable and at times unavoidable presence at any event nowadays. Yes, it did grow over the past few years to a full crowd. Just a very few people at “posh” events used to have dSLRs. Now there are many, many, many more.
Thinking back to the 2009 wedding season it is impossible to recall the number of people, some using really nice pro or semi-pro gear I’ve encountered. As entry level dSLR kits venture deeper and deeper into the inexpensive compact digicam territory, they are quickly becoming the prevalent tourist neck ornament.
Our tools of the trade have reached a new, lower, more “democratic” price point to a degree where $10000 can buy you a full set of photographic gear capable of taking pretty much any type of shot you need to take. The Yesteryear’s Pro could separate himself from the fore-mentioned crowd, by proudly displaying and using his big cameras and lenses complete with menacing looking hoods affixed bayonet-like. Not anymore. I remember being greeted recently at a wedding by a guest holding a Dicke Bertha sized camera, while having something looking like one of the Guns of Navaronne casually slung over his shoulder. Aside of making my gear look…umm… portable, his presence left me quite a bit perplexed.
I’ll cover this bit in a minute, just after making a quick point about the least of my worries. Yes, gear prices continue to go down every season and brisk pace technology steps make properly exposed, sharp pictures almost a non issue, yet, quite contrary to some people I know in this business, I’m finding this trend positive. My hardware related capital costs are going down every year, and as a business owner you got to love that.
Even though today everyone has the means of honing their craft to almost perfection, craftsmanship is only part of the equation. Being proficient in your chosen medium is essential but mercifully not enough. It never was and it will never be. Without the spark of talent, no amount of effort can help the creative process leave the realm of comfy average mediocrity. Anyone can buy the exact brushes and colors Michelangelo used, study, practice and hone his craft to the n-th degree yet the results will never go beyond a perfect copy. Conversely buying a Leica and learning how to use it (obviously much easier than painting) will never make one a Cartier-Bresson or Salgado nor buying a Stradivarius will transform someone in Menuhin overnight. Creativity, talent, originality are not for sale anywhere and camera kits do not bundle any of it either.
This brings me back to my original point. People sometimes buy pro gear hoping for massive improvements in their photography but frequently they are disappointed by the results and by that time it’s a bit late to back down. Pro gear does absolutely NO hand-holding and tends to be rather complex yet people gladly add this layer of complexity on their pre existing struggles. Really perplexing indeed.
There are no cameras pre-packaged with “perfect moments” at least neither now nor in the foreseeable future. That does not keep people from trying though…
Well, in the end it is worth remembering that if one sincerily believes doubling the efforts can compensate for a lack of talent, there’s no limit to one can’t do.