on cameras and photography

Sometimes people email me asking for recommendations about purchasing a camera. I don’t mind it at all. I love cameras. I love talking about cameras, taking photos, and all of that stuff. But, I wish that people would be generally mindful of a few things when considering upgrading cameras, getting into photography, etc.. At least, I wish that they would be mindful if they are going to interact with me on the subject. I think that it would be less frustrating for all parties involved. For example– even though I know it is not meant to be offensive, I can’t help but be a little bit insulted when someone says something like “I want to get a good camera so my images will look like yours.” To me this is the equivalent of saying something like “This is really good food. I wish I could get a new kitchen, so that my cooking would taste like this.” I’m flattered that someone finds my images appealing, but discouraged by the insinuation that the camera did all of the work. I mean, having a nice camera definitely helps people produce quality images. But, it would be nice if people could acknowledge that there is a little more to it than just knowing how to use the shutter release button. I’m not trying to get all swollen headed, or pretend like I’m some sort of photography mogul. And I really hope that people don’t take this post the wrong way. I truly believe that, as with any artistic medium, producing something great comes from more than just having the right tools for the job. I think that in addition to having the right tools, a person should have a little bit of natural ability (which I think most people have), and willingness to study and practice.

At the risk of coming off like I think I know everything (I’m stating for the record, right now, that I don’t even come close to knowing everything about photography or anything else), I have decided to write a short series, in an attempt to possibly help people who are interested and want to become more involved in photography, and don’t mind the superfluous use of commas. In the series I will give my opinion about where to focus energy in order to improve ones photography skills, and possibly throw in some basic knowledge and links to some online resources that I find helpful. Intend to cover things like basic composition, exposure, lighting, and how to choose a camera. Again, all just my opinion, in hopes that someone finds it helpful. The “dropping knowledge” tag is meant to be tongue in cheek.

View all parts of this series here.

Posted in Photography and tagged , , , .


  1. I totally agree with this post. Photography is not all about pushing a button on a nice camera… and going to ITT tech does not make you a real graphic designer! 🙂 Sometimes people drive me nuts.

  2. You read my mind. When I was looking at your images today I was thinking, “I reaaaaaally need to learn how to use my camera.” I’m a perfect example of someone who’s had an SLR for a year and a half who doesn’t take good photos just because I have the camera. I’ve been lazy.

  3. I would love tips for shooting people in real settings. I have such a tough time getting good shots of people just being people and I would love to hear what you have to say. You take such amazing shots of Piper and Reagan so I feel like you’ll have some awesome advice for me.

    I can also personally vouch for the fact that owning a nice camera does not make you a photographer. I’ve had my fancy camera for about a year and a half now and I am still learning SO much about taking quality photographs.

    I’m excited about this!

  4. Wooo….I was actually going to ask you about which camera I should start out with hahaha. I’m excited to read the series because you may not know everything but you know an awful lot more than I do.

    AND for the record…you’re an amazing photographer and it’s not the camera..it’s you!

  5. I totally agree with you. Better camera equipment does not equal better images.

    That said, I’m hoping part of the series will include your equipment. We’re contemplating some upgrades, and I’d love to hear more from you about your gear.

  6. Well said. Reminds me of a quote/story I read somewhere recently, about the noted photographer who attends a dinner party thrown by a noted chef. The chef says to the photgrapher, “Your photos are amazing. You must have a really great camera.” After the meal, the photographer says to the chef, “That was an amazing meal. You must have a really great stove.”

    There’s a joke or cautionary tale for food photographers in there somewhere…

  7. Just because I get a fancy camera means that I won’t have pictures like yours?!?

    In all seriousness I’m really looking forward to this series because I’m going to be getting my first SLR camera in about 3 weeks and have no idea where to begin to learn how to use it – with the exception of the manual.

    Do you have any tips on the differences between Canon and Nikon and what I should be looking for in my first purchase? I don’t want anything too expensive (I’m looking around $500 – 750 and would ideally get a second lens included in that price if possible.)

  8. Also – do you have a suggestion of what two lenses would be good for a starter? I’m thinking that I would mainly be taking pictures of my nieces and nephew along with random things around my town and things that I stumble upon that I find interesting…

  9. Know what? I’m going to follow your tutorial blog, and try to religiously use your suggestions. I like the way you explain things and I have avoided really reading the instruction manual that came with my decent camera. Thanks for explaining concepts well without trying to go over everything all at once. Yes, know they’re all related, but I appreciate being able to experiment with one aspect at a time. If I do that, it’ll all come together. I love my many wonderful surprises, but I’d love to be able to pull them off again – when I want to!
    Thanks Jake.

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