• Sarah Bauer

It's Not The Camera That Makes The Photographer

For SMB Snaps's inaugural blog post, I figured I'd talk about my beginnings as a photographer, and the myth that good photographers are required to have a DSLR, or that having one makes you a good photographer.

The first photographs I remember taking were with Kodak disposable cameras at around age eight. For years, this was the only camera I was able to use, aside from rare moments when I'd be allowed to borrow my parents' Kodak point and shoot. This was in the early 2000s, so digital was starting to replace film, but film was still a good cheap alternative to digital. Especially if you were a small, very clumsy, child. I broke the first point and shoot I got, also a Kodak, by rolling over it in my sleep on a camping trip. I was around ten.

I was a child, so most of the photos were haphazard, motion-blurred, and out of focus. The cameras I used didn't have much in the way of settings, so I had to think about the limitations of the camera when I thought of which pictures to take. I focused on the basics: exposure, white balance, keeping the camera straight and steady. But even from that young age, I knew what I wanted to see in a photograph. Bright colors, interesting textures, unique subjects. With a camera in my hand, I got into the habit of looking for those things. This is part of the reason why I always look at the ground, especially on nature walks. Well, that, and the fact that I'm only a slightly less clumsy adult! Because I had developed my eye, my photos began to look more and more intentional as I got older. Even though I was still using point and shoots and was always several years behind the latest model, I began to even sell some of my photos in middle school and high school. Even today, some of the photos on my website were taken with a point and shoot. I couldn't tell you offhand which ones they are. I got my first DSLR in freshman year of high school, and my current one in junior year. I now use my first one as a backup. They're both Canon Rebels that were several years old when I got them, but they are reliable and my current one got me through college. The backup, despite its issues holding a charge, came in handy during the 2017 solar eclipse when I didn't want to risk sun damage to the newer camera. The point to this is that I do not have the latest and greatest equipment, but I still get people telling me that I must have a really nice camera to take such great pictures. It's never been about the camera. It's been the years of developing my photographic eye and learning how to make the camera work for me. At the end of the day, the camera is the thing that records what you point it at. You're the one who chooses what to point it at, what to focus on, how much light to let in, and everything else. The camera can't do that for you (although I'm sure scientists are working on that).

If you've been thinking of getting into photography but are intimidated by the price tag, there's no shame in picking up a camera at a yard sale or finding the most affordable model at a department store. It's not about how much money you spend on equipment, it's about how you use what you have.

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