There is a person who approaches me at every event where I am a photographer. It's a different person each time. The intent is the same.
This person really wants to be a "real" photographer and wants to pump me for information with questions or demonstrate knowledge by quizzing me or slinging loads of jargon. The conversation almost always heads to "once I upgrade my camera my photos will be amazing."
This person arrived at my photography event yesterday. He quizzed me. He wanted to know what I thought of his gear. He told me that when he upgrades his photos will come together. He's still having a little trouble with focus and exposure - that must be the lens.
This image came from my iPhone. I did a simple B&W filter. There is nothing fancy here - I couldn't adjust much of anything. The Boy was in the right place at the right time and I couldn't let it go. I'm glad I didn't.
Amazing photographs do not come from a camera. Best-selling books do not come from a computer. Evocative paintings do not come from a brush. The cameras, computers, and brushes are tools. It's how we use them that matters.
Every person who uses a camera is a photographer in the realest sense there is. Professional photography may be out of reach for a while. We all start at the beginning, and when progression matters to us we continue. I'm not a "good" photographer because I have four camera bodies, shoot film, or use prime lenses. I keep learning about the science. I practice each day. Most importantly, I value emotional connection over technical mastery.
As far away as I was from my son in this moment, I was connected with him. I felt like I was seeing him in an honest way. He allowed me to witness his life. While I may have had more options with a "real" camera, I couldn't have done much better than this.
It's not about what we have. It's about how resourceful we are and how well we use what is available. It's about how we love and listen. It's about how we connect.
The tools are secondary.
I see a lot of incredible moments of the human experience while being with families in love and grief. From each family I learn, and those lessons and points to ponder are what I wish to share with you here.