Over the last few days, I met two photographers, who promptly asked me what camera I use. When I said that I use a Nikon D810, they looked at me approvingly. One said that she has a Canon, and looked me up and down. When I was asked what other equipment I have, the second chap then told me that I can indeed photograph.
It was almost as though my camera, and the set of equipment that I own, define my skills as a photographer.
Neither asked me what areas of photography I specialize in, how I use light, my editing philosophy, or how I conceptualize a photograph. They were not interested in knowing my compositional skills, my plans to develop my work, or even if I still work in film. Which, I do.
Neither asked me, nor seemed interested in, what drives me as a photographer.
The camera, and the megapixels seemed to define me, not my ability to see.
Ultimately, photography is about seeing, and then using the tools of the trade to bring your vision to life. It is how you see a subject, and what personal stamp that you want to put on a subject that defines you as a photographer.
To some extent, photography is about life. It is about how you see life. It is also what aspects of life that interest you, and how your personality shapes your work. For instance, I do a lot of landscape work. The ecology of our planet interests me, and I love to bring it to life.
I also love portrait work, because I enjoy looking at a person and bringing out something of his/ her personality.
Still life, macro and abstract work absorb me, because they allow me to see patterns in nature and explore concepts I may not have done otherwise.
I enjoy life. I enjoy raw life, and this is what drives me to the streets. Having spent years in the boardroom, the streets keep me grounded. The people on the streets have a raw sense of humor, which is fantastic.
Photography is about looking at the story behind the image. We all, as photographers, stamp something of our personality onto the subjects we photograph. A photograph is our vision of the world. It is our choice, in choosing angles, times of day. It is our choice, in the subjects we select.
A photograph is an expression of the imprint of our mind on the world.
The equipment we use, the software we use, are tools to help us achieve these ends. Our skill in using them, is what then makes us a skilled, good, or great photographer.