Do the tools matter?

[4 min read]

I woke up this morning to this-

chicago wedding photography images

As I am in the middle of album designing, every now and then I’ll go back and take a few looks at images from my recent family vacation in Mexico. And with the weather as it is in Chicago, I figured that we all need some sunshine today, and this would be as good of a time as any to share a couple of images

These two images were taken at the same location at our resort, but at different times of the day (sunrise-ish vs sunset-ish). One was with my iPhone 5s, and the other with my Canon 5D Mark II. Can you tell which one is which? Which one do you prefer?

chicago wedding photography images
chicago wedding photography images

I obviously know which camera was used for each image. But when I look at these two images, there’s not enough a difference to me that make the camera choice a big deal. I’m not shooting commercial work for a billboard or magazine, I’m not planning on putting these images into any sort of competition. I wanted to capture images of a vacation with my family. And if I didn’t have my dSLR, I would have been perfectly satisfied with the images that came out of my phone.

One camera I spent a couple hundred dollars on…the other, a couple thousand. In this case, the difference in image quality does not equal the difference in cost.

There is a reason I invest in the quality of gear that I do. As a person who gets paid for photography, the quality of my images are held to a higher standard than just my personal snapshots. The lenses that I have give me much greater versatility for storytelling that I won’t get from my phone. The build of the dSLR gives me piece of mind that I will still be able to capture great images regardless of if the camera gets bumped, dropped, or caught in a rain shower. For the type of work that I produce, things like high dynamic range, fast focus, and great low light capabilities are vitally important to get the job done.

But my photography is not solely based on the tools I have. My photography is based on my vision, and I use whatever tools I have at my disposal to convert my vision into a medium that other people can see and interact with and enjoy.

Do the tools matter? Definitely. Does every situation require the top of the line stuff? Definitely not.

It’s easy to set the limiting factor of what we can accomplish based on our lack of resources. My images would be so much better if I had a better camera or better lenses. I’d be in much better shape if I had my own home gym. I’d be a better cook if I had the latest set of pots and pans.

Will a lack of resources hold you back? Yes, a bit. But what holds people back more is a lack of vision and a lack of passion and drive. I’ve seen more than enough people do amazingly greater things than I with far less than I have, because they hustle harder. They put their head down and work. They get every last drop of value that they can out of what they have. They don’t worry about the things they can’t control, but rather continue to make changes in the things that they can. And then they get more exposure and opportunities, which lead to more resources.

This cycle continues, and then they get on our radar. And we look at them and say, ‘If I had those opportunities, I could do the same.’ No, you probably couldn’t. Why? Because opportunity and resources are not the only piece of the puzzle you’re missing.