On Compromise

I was down at the Poynter Institute for the oddly-names Teachapalooza conference last month where we were told to think of this as an old-fashioned tent revival. Whenever someone said something really smart, we should all yell, “TEACH IT!”

I should have yelled more, but I was to busy typing out brilliant ideas to steal. Except, we were also told it’s not stealing, it’s “honoring.” I’m doing a lot of honoring this semester.

Gordon Lewis over at Shutterfinger put together a short piece on compromises that every gear-head needs to read. I am, have been and probably always will be a gear head. I can talk tech with the best of them – when “them” is other photographers. I never let gear get in the way of a story nor use it as an excuse when I don’t come back with what was needed.

Pay attention to the first line here:

If you truly want to be an uncompromising photographer then your focus is should be on your work, not your equipment. When the focus in on your work you set a high standard for your photographs and you strive to meet or exceed it on a consistent basis. You see your mistakes as an opportunity to learn rather than a sign of weakness or inferiority. You practice the simplest tasks over and over again until they become second nature. You let your muse be your guide rather than current fashion. You use whatever equipment you’ve got to its full potential rather than as an excuse for poor photographs, or worse, not producing photographs at all.

Get it? It’s not the gear. It’s never the gear. If I handed you the camera, lens and film combo Henri Cartier-Bresson or Alfred Eisenstaedt used, you’d cry. But click on those links – can you make those images?

Yeah, shut up gear-head. Go tell stories that matter with whatever you’ve got.

Mark E. Johnson

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