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'Most Famous Photos Were Captured With A Camera Less Advanced Than Yours'

Why are we telling you this? Well, it's to re-cement that the kit you own isn't the be-all and end-all.

| Photographer


With how quickly camera technology has improved over the last few years, particularly with the advancements in smartphone cameras, it's quite easy to blame our equipment for stopping us from capturing the perfect photo when in reality, it's how we use the equipment or set-up the shots in the first place that leads us to failure.

This topic has been covered by many in the past and will continue to be discussed for many moons to come but the quote 'Every famous photograph was made with a camera less-advanced than the one you are using now' was the reason that the video discussion above, put together by The Art of Photography, caught our attention. 

The title of the video is actually 'your camera is better than Ansel's' which is true for all of us and yet, many still consider Ansel's work to be masterful. 

The point Ted Forbes is trying to make is that yes you can purchase a photo capturing device with all of the pixels in the world but really, what and how we capture an image doesn't really have to have anything to do with the technology we have in our camera bags. Instead, we should think more about what we want our images to say, feel and as Ted says, 'how we communicate visually' with the world around us. In fact, it doesn't matter if you capture images with a DSLR, smartphone, film camera, vintage lens or even a pinhole camera, at the end of the day, it's what you have to say as a photographer most people are interested in, not what device you captured it with. 

The tools we have nowadays may allow quality to improve and they also give us access to new ways of capturing, editing and sharing images but at the end of the day, it's the end result that matters and, as Ted says, the tools we have access to allow us to reach this ultimate goal but they're not the main reason why an image does or doesn't succeed.

''Image quality alone doesn't make a great image,'' says Ted.

It's an interesting discussion and the video is well worth a watch.

Thoughts welcomed in the comments section below. 

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pablophotographer Avatar
pablophotographer 12 2.2k 451
25 Apr 2018 1:34AM

Do not say I have not told you...

And by the way... here's my thought on what makes a photographer:

Yes you guessed well, it is not the camera...

User_Removed Avatar
User_Removed 12 240 United Kingdom
25 Apr 2018 10:29AM
Like many great things, paintings, sculpture etc 'great' and 'famous' are determined by a few influencers.

We are all aware of the great photographic images but how many better ones have been ignored, thrown away, destroyed in fires and war that we have never seen?

Are the best being seen or realised or are senile oligarchies such as the RPS, PAGB (in UK) and similar controlling what is doing well and what is not? We certainly see waves of fashion in photography which demonstrate the lack of sophistication of such groups (or at least the judges). Indeed you are unlikely to see a new Ansel Adams like Landscape as landscape photography is now "not doing well" ?

In some respects many would not want the "openess ot minds" that the Turner Prize judges have as this may be a step too far.

Food for thought
JohanG9 Avatar
25 Apr 2018 11:14AM
You make the assumption that the photo is everything. What matters is the experience of looking at the photo, AND the experience of making it.Does using your camera give you more pleasure than Ansel Adams's gave him? I doubt it.
JackAllTog Avatar
JackAllTog Plus
14 6.4k 58 United Kingdom
27 Apr 2018 1:16PM
Its a great leveler isn't it. You can't blame your equipment !

However its not like with like, the few famous photographer of old had much less peer competition, far more support and obviously privileged access to subjects, whether by available time or VIP meetings. The people often had access to super locations and photogenic people that want to be photographed and made the time and location available for it.
So the true statement is: given the right subject, available time, correct weather, and knowledgeable processing then you should be able learn to produce an image at least as good as the old masters. These famous photographer's also often used tripods which can often help many times.

What also impresses me is those that can change a film, and manual focus under fire in a war zone.

I'd say to produce great images, understanding Art is more important than having an expensive camera. Then having the time and dedication to perfect the skill of using the tools (camera/lens/lighting/processing etc).

I'd say i personally need to learn to look for discrete rectangles of the view in front of me, as what i see as great is often hard to translate into 1:1 or 3:2 images that deliver the same impact as the scene/subject i saw when being there - wide angle lenses do not always help.
JackAllTog Avatar
JackAllTog Plus
14 6.4k 58 United Kingdom
27 Apr 2018 1:20PM
I'd also add that i fail to see a few of the old iconic images as great anyway. Yet others, perhaps boring at the time, are interesting now as we are unfamiliar with how things used to look.

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