About three years when I purchased my first SLR, the first bear in my Bear trio, I naively believed that with my new purchase, I was well on my way to photographic perfection. I even self-inducted myself into the world of professional photography (go me, right?). I felt like nothing could stop me because I felt like I had the tools to shoot like the pros. I remember my walk around UCLA after acquiring my beloved photographic friend and how ecstatic I was about taking professional pictures. Imagine my appall when I returned home and uploaded my pictures: "Uhmm... really? I paid $700 for this!?? I could have taken this with point and shoot!" (liberally remembered)
Beginning photographers, as my anecdote alluded to and myself included, have this propensity to rely on their gear. We immediately like to believe that because we're carrying around a professional tool, we instantly become professionals. This is what I deem the 80:20 rule. When we first start shooting, our photos tend to stem from 80% gear, 20% vision. We maintain the same haphazard habits of our P&S days and effectively point our cameras in a direction and fire away with very little consideration about composition. And when we review our photos, we're shocked by the neophytic nature of our shots. In order to compensate for our rookie mistakes, we start believing that our lack of creativity and vision originates in our kit lens or entry level bodies, so we find ways to save money to buy better gear. We get sucked into this viscous vortex of upgrading and never touch upon the source of our shortcomings, further perpetuating our inexperience.
But let my amateur mistakes serve as a lesson. Don't fall into the same proverbial hole that I fell into. When I upgraded to true professional gear (commonly known as Papa Bear), I was still making the same reckless mistakes I made when I started. Although the quality of my pictures were incredibly stellar, the vision was banal, maybe even lacking. It was then I realized it was time to take several steps back and reevaluate my situation. I took off the zooms and bought a prime lens. These self-inflicted gear-centric manacles crippled my ability to take quality photos, but by stripping my reliance on gear, I started stumbling upon vision. I started seeing the light. And well... what you see now is not a reliance on gear but a symbiosis of gear and vision with my craft as the progeny.
Funny enough, this album was done using the same entry level camera body that I started with three years ago. The difference now is that I've started to cultivate my vision and I'm inspired by a number of incredible individuals who help foster that creative vision. I've said it before and it begs to be reiterated. It's the photographer, not the camera. Here's to a new 80:20. 80% vision, 20% gear. Believe it.
Location: Long Beach
Gear: D40, 35 1.8