What is a photographer? - Does gear matter...

The advent of technology has allowed such amazing and wonderful advancements which are welcomed; however it comes at a cost. Whenever a new technology or idea comes out a traceable and predictable phenomenon takes place. I like to call it “the human condition”. Throughout human history one can observe this phenomenon in action repeatedly. Whether it’s the discovery of horseback travel or modern conveniences of computers, the human condition stands out evident to those who wish to observe it. Every time a good thing is invented this virus in humanity activates and turns a wonderful thing into a destructive thing, and it’s usually directly related to money. The horse was first tamed for ease of travel, a great convenience for our ancestors. However it was quickly converted into a destructive machine for making war. In our age computers were invented to better our ever more complex lives. But we wound up with hackers, malicious attacks and theft. The human condition is profound and it affects all areas, including the wonderful art of photography.  Its manifestation is clear in this creative field, and it’s a shame that there is so much misinformation floating about, with empty claims made by people that go unchallenged.

Today, iPhones, Androids, Tables and all manner of smartphones are with us every day, at every point in our lives and the most convenient devices for our entire life’s content. Lets face it, the list of things one can accomplish with an iPhone is enormous. The topic of the discussion is however clearly based on photography, so where am I going?

 Can we use our iPhones for photography?

One of my favorite quotes, beloved by photographers the world over states that “...the best camera in the world is the one you have with you”. Do you see where I’m going? In reality ask yourself: what is the point of owning the most expensive, most high performance Canon or Nikon body if you’re not going have it with you?

Yes, you can use an iPhone for photography. And the reality is that anything can be used to take a picture, as quality is subjective. So then, if we can use iPhones for photography does that mean we are all photographers? The answer is yes, yet again. In fact you’re photographing this very screen dozens of times every second as you read this article, with your eye’s sensor and lens. I'm clearly implying that everyone has the ability to be a photographer and it is second nature to all of us, of sorts. So then if the above statement is true, what distinguishes a banker with a camera from a commercial photographer with a camera? The answer is “the 6 inches behind that camera”. Regardless of the quality of the equipment, regardless of the price tag that hags upon it at your local camera store, the 6 inch rule is undeniably true.

So where are we now?

We have thus far determined that we can indeed make photographs with an iPhone and that we are all predisposed to become photographers. However we both know there is a difference between a seasoned professional and grandpa with his iPhone. The difference is quite simple, and it has everything to do with talent which has everything to do with effort and which is squarely based on time invested. Amateurs will chase their tails when being asked why they consider themselves a professional - they cannot provide a satisfying answer because they don't have one. So you’re left confused and often stop asking questions and its because it's easier for them to hide behind purchasing high priced equipment, and showing off that hardware instead of developing talent, skill, knowledge and experience - so there it is!  The crazy, wonderful, chaotic, extremely difficult to attain, stressful and pleasantly immeasurable cocktail composing a true professional - NOT equipment!


We live in a society that can claim anything without having to substantiate its claims. One can claim to be able to do anything and seldom will they be challenged to their claim, and this is how the amateurs thrive. Every person can see the difference and know it's there, they just can’t put their finger on it, and it is besides the equipment used. This blog, I hope, will be that proverbial finger in helping people make the distinction.

 I hope through my blog to shed some light on reality and start some conversations that need to be had. We need to change this, and education is the only way.

So I encourage you, the reader to be smart, stay alert and go learn something new!

Until Next Time,

Daniel Curtean