It’s What’s On the Inside that Counts

“What kind of camera do you shoot? Nikon or Canon?” Ah yes, that question we hear a lot. Frankly, it’s one of my least favorites. If I’m being honest, and I mean brutally honest, I can always spot an uninspired photographer by the questions they ask and this one, to put it bluntly, is right at the top of the list.

Photography is about many things. How does that old poem go, “…of cabbages and kings?” Yeah, all of that plus a ham sandwich. Seriously. There’s a lot to do when you are a photographer. You have places to go, people to meet, stories to tell. There are visions to be shared and joys to behold. Why on earth, given all of that, would you fuss about the brand name on your freaking camera? Now, I know a lot of photographers, heck, I am one myself, but I know an awful lot more, and they all effectively say the same thing. “It’s just a camera, man.” You pick a brand and stick with it (or maybe you don’t but it doesn’t matter.) Seriously, it just does not matter.

There was a song once. Paul Simon. “I got a Nikon camera…I love to take a photograph…” I swear that song did more for Nikon than any shiny brochure ad could ever do. Everybody’s got that in their freaking head. It’s like we collectively heard that and got brainwashed. Everybody wanted a Nikon camera after that. And, many people got them too. That’s great. That’s wonderful. I hope you’re happy now. Heck, I have one too (in case you’re wondering, I have both Nikon and Canon cameras. I shoot with Canon now but started down my photographic journey with an old trusted Nikon match-needle camera. Go look it up if you have to, I ain’t telling.) For too many people the notion that you have to, why you just have to have a Nikon camera in order to be a “real” photographer (whatever that might mean) is embedded in their thick uninspired skulls. OK, like somebody please shoot me now! I can’t stand it anymore.

If I sound snarky today, it’s because I’m really tired of having this discussion. Beginner photographers talk about gear. That’s great, gear is a part of what we do and all but, guess what? It’s not the only part of what we do. If you want to get good, and, when I say “good” here, I really mean “better,” you need to cast aside this foolish notion that gear matters. Seriously, it does not. Better photographers talk about work. Talk about work. Repeat after me: talk about work. Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that, as you might imagine, the reason a lot of photographers talk about gear and not about work is because it’s easier to talk about gear. Gear is something you can kick. I get that. It’s harder to talk about work. It’s more meaningful to talk about work. It’s more demanding to talk about work. It’s more absorbing to talk about work. Gasp! You might have to put your phone down and pay attention. Oh the horror! But, honestly, you need to learn to talk about work. Seriously. Once you become articulate about what you like and why you like it, you will be on a path, a great journey towards becoming a better photographer. I really cannot stress this enough. Articulate, people, articulate! Learn to speak, learn to listen, learn to see. The label on the camera? Why, that’s just noise.

What do you get if you break down and decide to go the Paul Simon route? Why, once you break down and finally decide to buy that Nikon camera, you are not a photographer, no, you are a Nikon owner. Congratulations. Welcome to the club. It’s boring because, why, nobody here can talk about anything but their damn cameras and who wants to talk about that? Now, if you want to be a photographer, you’ve got to learn how to have something to say. In order to do that, why, you’ve probably got to put that trusty Nikon camera to some serious good use. Shoot it man, just shoot it. Learn to talk about it, yes, but stop going on about your D this or your L that. Seriously, nobody gives a flying you-know-what about any of that.

I’m so over brand wars, it’s not even funny. In case you could not tell, I’m just about done with any of the nonsense surrounding the entire “Canon vs. Nikon” or even the “mirrorless vs. DSLR.” Heck, shoot with an iPhone, shoot with a freaking sketch pad and a sharpened pencil if you really want to, but, damn it, show me a composition that sings, that really freaking sings, and I’ll show you a photographer. Tell me a story, make me see a place like I’ve not seen it before. Make me feel so alive it hurts. That, now *that* is photography. Anything else? Why, it’s just some kind of brand envy that I can just as soon do without.

Doesn’t matter what your camera says, it’s on the inside that counts. And, yes, in case you’re curious, when I say “inside” here, I’m not talking about the little box we carry around either. Dig deep, man, dig deep and show me what you got, otherwise you’re just worshiping at the store of Paul Simon regrets and shallow regurgitations. Look inside and show us what you got. Be inspired so you can be inspiring. It’s how we put more joy back into the world, right?

Until next time…

PS Oh yes, I’m going to say it because I have to. This one shot with the Canon 5DS in Dakota. Wonderful story about this place. The home was left almost intact, including the bedroom which you see here. Intact but decaying, kind of like the old Canon vs. Nikon debate itself, eh? Shot in Dakota with the walkabout lens.


  1. jack hollingsworth
    February 9, 2017 / 5:56 pm

    Love this post Carol. And I love your attitude. Woo hoooooo!

  2. Carol
    February 13, 2017 / 3:45 pm

    Thanks, Jack! You are the best. So glad you liked it.

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