Will a new camera make better photographers?

Making Pictures with John Enman - Will a new camera make better photographers?

Photography failures may not always be the fault of your camera

Photography failures may not always be the fault of your camera

I received an email the other day from a photographer who is trying to earn some money at photography.  She had been submitting prints to companies that purchase stock photography, but has not had any luck.  Discouraged, she wondered if her problem might be that her camera wasn’t making high enough quality images, and thought purchasing a new camera with more megapixels might be the answer.

I began by saying that she should keep on submitting photography and suggested she take a look at her style and preferences in photography and to determine if there is a niche market that fits her subjects.

I suppose any excuse is a good enough to get a new camera.  I am OK with that, however, I am not sure that “more megapixels” is the answer.

As long as I have been in photography photographers have blamed their failures on their cameras. It used to be that photographers wanting to become professional, would discard their 35mm and buy a medium format camera because they believed it was necessary to take professional pictures.  Then they would decide their pictures still weren’t good enough, so they would sell their Mamiya to buy a Hasselblad, thinking that would really allow them to take professional pictures.

That attitude and rationale about cameras hasn’t changed, only now instead of medium format cameras the answer is a bigger sensor with more pixels, and, of course, the belief that one camera company might be better than the other.

Will different camera models and more megapixels make a difference to the image quality? Well, maybe. Perhaps it could depend upon what an image buyer wants and how large the final image file needs to be.  Research into that means pages of confusing charts and hours of reading other photographer’s opinions.

I believe we need to be comfortable with our cameras and learn how to make them perform the best.  I taught photography for many years and I was always amazed at how much money students spent on camera equipment in order to achieve an A grade, when all they needed to do was learn better techniques.

I am not saying that one shouldn’t get the newest and best photographic equipment available. My advice is to make the choice the depending on the kind of photography one likes to do.  However, the camera isn’t going to make a person become a better photographer.

As I write this I am beginning to wonder about that last statement. If a photographer purchases a new camera, they get really excited and go out and shoot, and shoot. More shooting equals more practice and when all is said and done more practice is what actually makes for a better photographer.

With that rationale we could say if a person bought a new camera every six or eight months (that seems about how fast new models are appearing) then that means a person would be improving at least twice a year. Gosh, in two years a person would be four times better than when he/she started!

Hmm… with that reasoning I should tell that photographer to go ahead and buy herself a new camera with as many pixels as she can afford.

Nevertheless, if after her hours of research she can’t make a decision on which new camera to spend her money, my advice will be to study the work of successful photographers in her subject area, and spend lots of time experimenting and practicing with the camera she has.