I have started to shoot photos since 1992. From an amateur shooting as a hobby to a professional photographer shooting for a living, I have accumulated hundreds of thousands of photos covering all different subjects: architecture photography, hotel photography, food photography, product photography, fashion photography, event photography, portrait photography, jewelry photography etc., among which some are award-winning photos. I have come across many occasions whenever a good photo is presented, someone would ask me: “Hey, Jason. Nice picture! What camera did you use for the shooting?” After hearing my answer, they would always comment: “That is a good camera. No wonder you can produce such a wonderful picture!” I was speechless. Do good cameras mean good images? Or is a good camera the only reason for a good photo?
First of all, what constitute a good picture? The angle, the composition, the layout, the lighting, the shadow and the colors are all determining factors. In commercial photography, e.g. for portrait photography, it is essential to capture the subject’s facial expression and the action to convey his/her character. The background, the environment and the atmosphere is also an integral part of a good photo. Atmosphere is abstract, which is often created by lighting and shades. In terms of food photography, the lighting skill is crucial. Good lighting can enhance the food texture so as to arouse the viewer’s appetite. If the photographer can demonstrate a romantic, cozy feeling in the picture, it is certainly easier to lead consumers to the restaurant.
In my opinion, the photographer’s brain is more important than cameras and lens in creating outstanding images. Good photos are the photographer’s silent language, telling a story behind. Yes, a successful photographer need good photo equipment and basic photography skills. However, more importantly, he/she must learn to observe and think, so that he/she can discover the beauty in daily life. He/she must continue to learn in daily life and learn from other forms of arts, because all forms of arts come from everyday life. For example, in architectural exterior photography, I often need to observe how the sunlight from different angles should affect the result of an exterior picture. When I shoot for a hotel or a building later, I will know exactly what I want and what is the best time to take exterior/architectural pictures.
In our digital era, everybody can become a photographer as many can afford to buy a good camera. However, it is still not easy to produce good images. Especially for commercial photography, it takes time and hard work to become a professional photographer. Many amateurs know little about lighting, which is the core of commercial photography. Yes, digital cameras and Photoshop has made shooting much easier, but not necessarily means your shooting techniques have improved. I believe Photoshop is a useful tool, but a professional photographershould not rely on Photoshop to craft good images. If he/she does, then at most he/she is a good image retoucher, or an excellent graphic designer.
In summary, I think it is easy to obtain good photo equipment, but not easy to produce good images. Expensive cameras do not equal to gorgeous photos.