Pro Gear Means I’m A Pro, Right?

No. This has come up around some of the forums lately and I had to sound off about the topic. It pertains mostly to threads where people ask advice about what gear to buy, and the sad part is that there are some really skewed answers out there.

The fact that photographers are telling other photographers that you need to have pro gear if you’re going to get paid is absurd. Or my other favorite, I read where one user said that they couldn’t believe that someone was shooting weddings with Sigma glass and charging for it.

Here’s the BOTTOM LINE: you don’t need to have a D3, fast Nikon glass, and an Elinchrom Ranger kit to be considered a professional photographer or to be paid for your work.

I say this over and over and over… cameras, lenses, and expensive flash heads and battery packs don’t make pictures. Photographers do!

So why am I repeating myself? Some people still fail to see that all those fancy cameras, lenses, and lights are nothing more than tools that help photographers do their job. Can you get the job done with less? In most cases, yes you can. For some jobs you’re going to need some good tools, like shooting indoor sports or sports at night. There’s just no substitute for fast glass and a fast motor driven camera that performs well at higher ISO settings.

Can you shoot weddings and portraits with a D90 and some SB900s? ABSOLUTELY! Could 99% of the population tell that you didn’t have a D3 and a Ranger kit by looking at your images? Probably not. Good photography has absolutely nothing to do with equipment, but it has everything to do with composition, lighting, and being able to “see”.

For now, I’ll step down from my soap box. Just keep in mind that gear doesn’t make pictures, photographers do. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule but for the most part you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to make great pictures. Technique is what really matters.


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5 thoughts on “Pro Gear Means I’m A Pro, Right?

  1. I agree with you when it comes to cameras. I use a D90 for everything. I use New VR glass, AF lenses, and AI lenses (from my old F3.)

    Sometimes, lighting is a different story. Speed lights are great, but they usually can’t compare to the light quality of studio strobe light.

    Otherwise you’re absolutely right! If you don’t know what to do with the D3/Ranger kit set-up, you aren’t getting any extra value out of the added expense.

    • It’s amazing how one small light can have a really great quality to it. It all comes down to how you use it. There are plenty of modifiers out there that make small flashes act like big lights. Heck, even a white bed sheet will do the trick. Nice shot Marc!

  2. Now turn up to shoot a wedding with a cheap point and shoot. Yeah, you’ve just learned that to some degree a minimum quality of kit is required. While expensive kit won’t make you a better photographer, it will make your photographs a higher quality.

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more Jared. That’s why I tell people not to buy gear with the thought that your images will improve.

    If one takes crappy pictures with a cheap camera, all that expensive gear will get them is high-quality, crappy pictures.

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