Recently my long time digital neighbor @scottbourne posted on twitter that he had received some hate mail for posting a lowly iPhone picture on his blog.
The following is not so much a rebuttal of Scott’s critics but some insights about the creative process in general and photography as a medium.
My platform for this piece is based on thirty years in the design business, dealing with people, photographing things and really looking and thinking. Thinking and looking are far more important than tools. It matters not whether you have all the latest gadgets or simply a pencil and a legal pad. Creativity is about thinking and looking.
There’s an old saying, “it’s a poor workman that blames his tools”. I must say this is very true. It’s taken a long time to realize that if my work is not what I want it to be; it’s not my computer or my camera’s fault. The skill is between my ears. I simply failed to employ everything necessary to get the job done. Sometimes you have happy accidents but you can’t rely on that to see you through.
In Scott’s case it seems that some folks were upset that he had used his iPhone and a simple light to create the image instead of all of his high end photo gear. He was only trying to demonstrate the capabilities of the phone and that you can make decent images without a DSLR.
When I decided to switch to digital all I had was a cell phone. What I learned from using only a cell phone can be found here.
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your tools is the key, the brand, label, megapixels and ratings are minor in comparison to skill, thinking and looking. Being able to “see” an image out of all the visual cacophony is right at the top of the list.
The first photo I ever sold was made on a Canon A540 point and shoot camera that I bought at a pawn shop. In fact you can’t tell what camera was used by looking at the photo.You can only analyze the physical properties of the image.
Oh Yeah, there’s One More Thing. The very nature of the creative process is based on criticism. At some point you have to say, this is good or it’s trash and I need to do better. Criticism doesn’t have to be rude or unkind but it does need to be honest. Invariably when I’ve been criticized in the past, I’ve had some of both and lived to tell about it. The notion that we are going to live in a world where people don’t have strong opinions and not voice them is frankly unrealistic. Especially if you create for a living.
Guard your subjective bias and realize there are many new tools and means of creative expression out there.