Cameras do not make photographs’

In this post, I will be briefly looking at the truth behind the statement “cameras do not make photographs’.” Your highly expensive camera does not know you or love you. You can accurately think for your camera but it can only guess at what you want in return. It is simply the recording interface between you and the outside world beyond your mind.

The camera is only a tool to record the inspiration and ideas going on inside your head. You must put vision – what you find significant and interesting in a picture before lusting after hardware. A master photographer will make great pictures with any camera they are not bound by the method of recording. The taking or recording is only one step in the creative process of making a photograph.

“Pictures are taken but photographs are made” – Ansel Adams

Photographers make photographs, cameras do not. For those of us who strive to become better at what we do, it would be a timely idea to put into perspective what good or even great looks like. Technology advances by the day, the ubiquity of pictures taken and posted to the internet increases year on year. The quality and emotional impact of pictures by the very best professionals to inform and change our perception of the changing world around us varies little over time.

A great shot from the 1840’s is still a great shot. Many widely accepted pictures as great shots are not sharp by today’s digital standards. For me, emotional impact has a far greater value than clinical sharpness. I would suggest the real value and quality of great photography lies within the photographer and not the method of recording. The vital ingredient is the quality of the ideas rather than a clinical method to record them.

What is a great photograph as opposed to a master photographer?

For me, the qualities of a great photograph are:

  • Expands the photographic genre beyond its current state
  • Has impact
  • Conveys mood and emotion
  • Demonstrates significance and attitude
  • Changes the viewers understanding of the subject matter
  • Stays in the viewer’s memory

For me, the qualities of a master photographer are:

  • Desire, patience, persistence and confidence
  • Unconscious competence – the whole taking and making process is second nature
  • A master of lighting, subject selection, composition and timing
  • An expert – Analytical approach, transcends guidelines and rule
  • Has a vision of what is possible currently and in the future
Use the Gaining New Skills infographic below to assess where you are on the road to becoming a master photographer
Take the idea of learning new skills further and join us on the five-day residential workshop
“What you need to do next is…”
7 – 11 December 2018
Hartland Quay – North Devon 
  • Discover new directions for your photography
  • Dramatic Hartland Quay – North Devon
  • 4 nights B&B at the Hartland Quay Hotel
  • A free copy of The ABC of CameraWork Manual worth £25
  • Great for both colour & mono workers
  • 4 Places for individual guidance
  • Fitness level 1 of 3

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My YouTube Channel

My YouTube Channel has been updated with two new videos that I think you will find informative and interesting.

The feature picture above

Porthgain Harbour – SOOC (Straight out of camera) The original as taken is not an interesting picture to me, it is just a starting point in the picture making workflow. The split-toned mono post-processing along with the increased and controlled contrast has added mood and atmosphere.