Your Camera is Just a Tool


man takes photograph with dlsr camera

The first time I met Carla, we went for a walk round a churchyard with our cameras and took a few photos. She was having issues with lack of sharpness which I was convinced was her kit and not her, as she was suspecting! It wasn’t until the second or third time that I met her, though, that she mentioned something that stuck with me. She talked about the way in which I handled my kit. Truthfully, I think she was a little bit horrified by what she had seen.

You see, I don’t look at my expensive cameras and lenses as being that. I see them as the tools of my trade, the kit that enables me to do my job. And so I’m probably what you might call a bit blasé with them – maybe even careless, lazy, lackadaisical even. At least, I suppose that’s the impression I give when I’m seen dangling several thousand dollars of camera and lens from my fingertips, or dumping it heavily onto the ground, or bashing it against a wall or fence as it hangs on a strap from my shoulder.

If you look at my kit, it is well worn. It has scuffs and scratches, and bits worn off. The front edge of my lenses are dinked and chipped, the glass probably dusty, maybe even scratched. I don’t use UV filters, I rarely put a lens hood on and, for the most part, I don’t use a strap on my camera to hang around my neck as I shoot.

Now, I totally get that my way is not for everyone. I get that these cameras we buy for our art, our businesses, our hobbies, are not cheap. We spend money on good glass as we strive for sharper images that are capable of shooting in lower light situations. But, honestly, these cameras and lenses are just tools. They’re the tools of our trade. They’re how we do what we do. 

Sure we have to keep those tools functioning, which generally means not dropping them from massive heights or, you know, allowing them to be crushed under a bus or something. I’m not saying you should be a total brute with your camera! But I do wholeheartedly believe you don’t need to be precious about these tools either. 

As much as I joke about how my cameras and lenses are my “babies” and that they come higher in the list of things to grab if my house catches on fire than my husband (TRUE STORY), there is this wonderful thing called insurance and so I know, if the worst comes to the worst, I am covered. 

I am now covering my ears and closing my eyes to the “But I don’t have insurance” cry. Because, honestly, if you have kit that is this pricey, then you really need to insure it folks. Don’t make me say that again!

woman holds dslr camera and takes a photograph

Photo taken by Stuart Woolley

I’m also going to tell you that if you’re shooting for business, and being paid to do so, to provide images to people for money, then you really, really should consider having back-up kit and a variety of lenses to cover every eventuality. Do not take people’s memories for granted – shoot on multiple cards if you have the option, back-up to multiple locations and multiple external hard drives, keep a second camera body with you at shoots and, if there’s a chance that you’re more accident-prone, then maybe you do use a camera strap or a holster or a belt to stop the inevitable happening. 

Just don’t get so precious about your kit that you daren’t bring it out, or let it get a bit dirty or dusty as you work. Like every hard worker, it’s bound to get a bit sweaty in the process!