I get asked pretty much the same questions by each new couple I meet.¹ One of those questions is being asked with increasing urgency and is about how I work (and by this I mean how I work mechanically—with my camera gear, not relationally—how I work with people). People want to know if I shoot film or digital and what cameras and lenses I carry around with me and how and when I choose to shoot what I shoot.
I. Beware the Marketing Plugs
The curiosity about how I work doesn’t bother me. I’d be curious, too—and not just because all the camera-gadgets are so fascinating. It’s that it sometimes is asked of me—and all my fellow professional photographers—with judgmental weight behind it. There’s information swirling all over the web about what folks think is the “best” way to go at making photographs. And not surprisingly, everybody says “hooray” for his or her own way of doing things. (Translation: beware the marketing plugs). There are lots of best ways of doing things.
II. It’s The Artist Not The Medium That Matters
What worries me is that couples might discount working with a digital photographer whose images they really admire and whose style they really love because they think they’re supposed to like a film photographer better. Or vice versa. There are great photographers making great images with all sorts of cameras, regardless of brand or medium, with fancy-schmantzy lenses and with plastic toy lenses … or even with no lenses at all. And that’s why I don’t talk about cameras or lenses or image capture very much around here on the blog, as much as I can help it.² This is an exciting time to be a photographer, and we have more choices about how to make an image than ever before.
But—and this is important—we photographers make the images we make because of how—and what—we choose to see. The camera is, and always will be, no matter how many bells and whistles it may tout in its limitless incarnations, a box with a hole in it. Whatever medium we use (film, digital), it’s just a medium. It’s the artist and his or her own very personal vision that matters.*
III. Go With What You LOVE
What you want to find is work that really connect with. Keep in mind that WYSIWYG, for the most part. There are certainly limitations to an online portfolio site, but once you’ve seen enough of a photographer’s work, on- and off-line, to feel like you “get” it, you probably do. And then: go with your gut. Don’t get caught up in the trappings …
photo: Gia Canali