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It’s not the Camera, it’s the Seeing

“Hence the photographer’s most important and likewise most difficult task is not learning to manage his camera, or to develop, or to print. It is learning to see photographically-that is, learning to see his subject matter in terms of the capacities of his tools and processes, so that he can instantaneously translate the elements and values in a scene before him into the photograph he wants to make. The photopainters used to contend that photography could never be an art because there was in the process no means for controlling the result. Actually, the problem of learning to see photographically would be simplified if there were fewer means of control than there are.” Edward Weston

What Weston said many decades ago is even more relevant today. Camera and software manufacturers spend billions of dollars to convince photographers that their “new” camera, lens, widget is the key to making better photographs. It simply isn’t true. Learning to “see photographically” and becoming intimately familiar with what the tools we already own can do can free us from the idea that owning the newest, most expensive or trendiest influencer approved piece of equipment will improve our work.

I can’t think of an artistic pursuit that is more dependent on tools. Or one that has been more exploited by suppliers because of the need for those tools. When I accepted the fact that my camera was a means to an end, and stopped reading gear reviews, catalogs, and manufacturer ads and focused on my own vision I saw an immediate difference in my work.

The same is true with your chosen format. The format I chose was solely the means to interpret my own photographic vision. Regardless of whether it is digital or film, the choice I made was due to how it melds with my way of seeing. Once the choice was made, it became part of my process. But it’s not the centerpiece, just a mere component to arrive at a finished photograph.

Thanks for reading. I welcome your comments!

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