A few weeks ago I entered 4 prints in a juried photography show. There were a total of 140-some submissions, and 2 of my 4 entries were chosen out of about 30 overall, with 1 of mine receiving an Honorable Mention. All 4 photographs were taken with my now-ancient and so-called obsolete Canon G9.
The prints were done on canvas at an 11×14 size. Admittedly that’s probably about as big as they will go without losing some quality, but I can live with that. There’s no reason why they need to be bigger. The main point – and one that brings me great satisfaction – is that the type of camera I used was immaterial. All four of the photos I entered were made while I was on vacation. If I had taken only an SLR I probably wouldn’t have made the photos at all, because more than likely I would not have had my camera with me. Having a compact and easily-portable camera that I was willing to carry made the difference. I could have made the photographs with any camera – and made them just as well – but I could only have made them if I was carrying a camera at all. If I had taken only a bulky SLR I probably would have left it in my room.
I recently attended a photography workshop with Les Saucier, who has been one of my mentors and has provided much of my recent photographic inspiration. In part of his presentation Les uses as an example a phrase that represents his choice of camera brand and pokes fun at those of us who favor the superior make. It’s all in fun and we know it. At one point during the class he mentioned that while he can easily tell the focal length of the lens used and can sometimes tell whether the lens was high-quality or not, he has never been able to look at a photograph and tell what brand of camera was used. The images reveal a lot of things but they do not reveal the brand or type of camera.
During the critique session four of the six images I submitted were made with my G12. No one even hinted at knowing or wondering (or caring) what camera I used. In fact, the two that I shot with my G12 got favorable commentary from Les as well as the participants. This only serves to emphasize my point.
I know this is a subject I probably beat to death, but it’s one I feel strongly about. It’s the photographer that makes the photograph. The camera he uses is obviously the most important tool, but the end result is about the photograph itself, not the equipment used to create it.