Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Right Tools for the Jobs
When I talk about photography tools, I'm talking about everything from cameras to glass to lighting gear to accessories to software to gadgets and gizmos and beyond. Some might argue that any camera is the right tool for the job. I disagree. While the best camera might be the one you have with you, and it's true any camera will let you snap a photograph which, in the broadest sense, is the job, it's not accurate to say all photographs snapped with any camera are equal to a job well done... depending on what, specifically, that job might be, of course.
Some photographers are generalists. Others are specialists. Most of them probably fall somewhere in between those two, descriptive, words. Me? I'd say I'm a specialist when it comes to 80% or more of what I do, what I work at, as a photographer. The balance, of course, could be labeled generalist work.
Since 80% (or more) of my work is specialist work, the tools I own -- from cameras to glass to lighting and more -- are tools which best serve me, i.e., they're the best or right tools for the job; the job of doing the kinds of specialty work I most often perform.
I often see other tools which look cool and I'd love to have but, before getting my hands on them, I always ask myself if that cool tool will be a great tool for the jobs I most often perform. If it doesn't pass that test, there's little chance I'll purchase it. I have purchased gear that, at the time, I thought would be cool to have and use but, in the end, if it didn't turn out to help me perform the work I usually perform, I ended up selling it on eBay or via Craigslist. I mean, why hold on to something that doesn't really earn it's keep in my bag of tools? Just to have it? I guess some people have that point of view but, since money is always an object, leastwise for me, I need to be selective in what I purchase.
Take cameras, for instance. I still shoot with a Canon 5D. The original, not the follow-ups. Would I like to have a 5DmkII or mkIII You betcha. Do I need one to do my job effectively. Nope. Are there other cameras I'd like to have? Yep. Do I need any of them? Again, nope. Same holds for glass. There's a lot of lenses I'd love to own. But I have to ask myself, "When doing my job, how often will that lens get pulled out of my bag and slapped on my camera?" If the answer is "rarely" or "not too often," there's little chance I'll purchase it.
A few years ago I purchased a Canon, wide-angle, "L" lens. It was for a specific job I was going to do. The job fell through. I still held onto that lens for a year or so. I shot with it a couple of times but more for "grins" than anything else. Mostly, it sat in my bag. So, I sold it. The good part was I sold it for about the same money I paid for it. (Thanks to a rebate special Canon was offering when I purchased the lens.)
If there's a point to this update, it's that there are right tools for the job, wrong tools for the job, and tools which might occasionally be right but probably not often enough to warrant a spot in your bag. Then, of course, there are tools which, for the most part, are worthless when it comes to most any photography job you're likely to engage in.
Course, if you have plenty of F-U money to spend, go for it. If I had money to burn, I'd probably need a large room just to store all my photography gear.
The pretty girl at the top is one whose name I can't recall. (Click to enlarge.) It was one of those gigs where I shot about a dozen models, all of them in front of that stucco wall (where they told me to shoot) and all of them with a production manager constantly telling me to hurry up. It was a mix of natural daylight and a couple of strobes. I used a 5' Octa for a main, although I used it more for fill than for being a key light. I also used a medium-size strip box as a kicker, camera left. The sun did the rest of the work.