If you’re a photographer, I’m sure someone asked you the dreaded “What camera do you use?” question at least ten times. We’ve all been there, and we’ve all complained about it. But a recent video made me realize that it’s time we got over it. In this article, I’ll explain my point of view and why we shouldn’t feel so offended and bitter when someone assumes it’s our camera that takes great photos.
Photographer Bohdan Lee recently shared a TikTok video referring to what all of us have been through. Someone says how beautiful your photos are and then asks, “What camera do you use?”
The worst question to ask a photographer #photography #photographer #aesthetic #cinematicphotography
Just like you and Bohdan, I’ve also been through people seeing my photos, saying they were beautiful, and then asking about my camera. I’m not trying to take the high ground; it used to really annoy me, too. But this video made me realize something – it doesn’t annoy me anymore! I was surprised by this new sentiment I have, and I thought about what changed. And this is what I’d like to share, hoping that it will help you be more tolerant and forgiving, which will ultimately make you happier.
Not everyone knows what you know
As photographers, we know that it’s not the camera that takes good photos. It’s just a tool, and what makes photos good is our talent, knowledge, and skill. You can take crappy photos with the most expensive gear, and you can take stunning photos with a smartphone or your dad’s old film camera. You know it – and you subconsciously think that it’s implied.
However, that’s not the case. Non-photographers have no idea of the time and skill that stand behind your great photos. I’m 100% sure they don’t have bad intentions when they ask you the question about your camera, nor do they want to offend you. As a matter of fact, they’re trying to learn more about you and your craft.
What about other photographers asking about your camera?
Just like you, other photographers know that it’s not about the gear. So, when they ask you this question, it’s most likely just out of curiosity. Or perhaps you use the same camera brand and you can have a gear talk if that’s your cup of tea. But the bottom line is – no one is trying to offend you.
What can you reply?
The next time someone asks you about what camera you use, you have several options. It all depends on the situation and the person asking. Are they generally not into photography but they want to give you a compliment and learn more about you? Are they just making small talk? Are they newbie photographers or thinking about starting photography? Whatever the situation is, giving a salty response is not an option in either of them.
For example, I’d say what camera and phone I use and change the topic if I estimate someone’s just making small talk. Why waste my energy? If they’re genuinely interested in either photography in general or just my work, I’d give the gear information again, but note that it’s important to learn about light, composition, settings, etc. If they’re newbies or trying to get into photography – there’s nothing I’d rather do than help them step into this wonderful world. I’d be open to their questions, tell them all I know, and point them to useful resources. Once a teacher, always a teacher, I guess.
My point is that no one is trying to offend you or annoy you when they ask what camera you use to take your beautiful photos. It comes from curiosity or desire to learn more, and it’s meant as a compliment. A little clumsy, but still a compliment.
So, when someone asks you this the next time, try to remember that it’s all in good faith. Give them a smile and information, and don’t poison yourself by being angry about it. After all, you know what t takes to take great photos – and that’s what really counts!
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