Last holiday season, we took a quick trip up to the La Sal Mountains. Because this was designated as a “family” trip I took only my trusty Canon S95 point and shoot camera to ensure that photography didn’t accidentally take a front seat to the great Christmas tree expedition of 2012. After a few hours of driving and post holing through snow we accepted defeat and headed home with no tree. On the way home I spotted a dense stand of aspens on the side of the road. I hit the brakes and the FJ Cruiser slid forward a few feet on the icy road with the anti-lock brakes making all kinds of ruckus before coming to a satisfying halt. I grabbed the S95, lowered the driver’s window and composed a photograph as carefully as I could from inside my running truck with a very hungry wife and son glaring at me. Thirty seconds later we were on the move, bellies growling and snow melting into little pools on the floorboard.
At the gallery I’m often asked, “What kind of camera do you use?” Some times, people will simply exclaim “Wow, you must have a great camera!” or they’ll lament, “I wish I had a camera like yours so I could take awesome pictures too.” It’s not about the camera, folks. Much has been written on this topic, so I won’t pretend this is some creative epiphany. But seriously, isn’t photography about the photographs? Never once have I enjoyed a Rothko or Matisse and thought, “Wow, if I had that dude’s brush my paintings would be hanging in the Louvre.”
I admit to being a gear head. I love toys and I geek out on new cameras. But when I view a spectacular work of photographic art I don’t dwell on the camera used to create it. I don’t care. I appreciate photographs for the art, for the creative vision of the photographer and because the images make me feel something. The image below was made with a point and shoot camera, from inside a car, with all of maybe thirty seconds invested in creating the photo in the field. Does it matter? No. It’s about the art, not the camera.