The Gadget Question

If you are a photographer, one of the most frequently asked questions to you is  what gadgets do you use? what is the make of your camera, and what is the lens that you use? It needs to be understood, why this is the most asked question. Nobody goes to a poet and asks what pen they use or goes to a painter and asks what make of a brush they use. The gadget is perceived as the most important tool in photography. But why?

I don’t want to trivialize it by saying the photographic audience don’t understand what goes behind a photograph. But I think the gadget question has a deep under pinning, photography is looked at by many as a serious art form. I make this argument based on what art is considered as. Not getting into a stricter definition art, art is “a visual object or experience consciously created through an expression of skill or imagination” (according to Brittanica encyclopedia). It cannot be denied that many photographs are created without any conscious intervention. Unlike a painter who decides why and how he needs a particular brush stroke in the picture, as photographers, we don’t generally ask the “Why” question from the images we make. Most of the time, we get instant gratification from making eye candy aka pretty photographs, which are easier to make with a good camera or lens or even following a recipe in post-processing.

I think as photographers the onus is on us to project photography  as not just  a documentary medium. It needs to become a tool of expressing one’s thoughts, one’s vision. As long as the majority of photographers don’t see it beyond a documentary medium, I will not be surprised if the gadget question keeps on coming back to us.

I don’t think gadgets are unimportant. However, I feel they are easily one of the most over rated items in photography and thanks to the press gadget gets, it overshadows the other important facets of photography. The next time when we see the new cool gadget in the market, it is important to ask, why we really need that? Is the shallow DOF gained from that extra aperture is going to make us a better artist? Are those extra stops on that big stopper going to help us in expressing us better?