I love people, I love photography and I love great imagery. In fact, I am obsessed with this craft of feeling, connecting and crafting stunning visuals. I have spent the last decade breathing everything light and perspective. Going from photography blogger to photo writer, educator, workshop leader, editor, publisher and everything in between, I engaged in thousands of conversations through my imagery, my interactions and projects.
On this journey I have used numerous cameras from Nikon, Canon (my early days), settling on Fujifilm (especially the X100 and X-Pro series) for most of my career (I still think that the X100/S/T/F is the best overall camera out there). I was always open and honest about why I used certain gear, but I never particularly cared what gear others worked with.
For most of my productive years I have worked with the X-series line and so have many of my friends. Over time, I’ve met many people who use Sony, Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Leica, Hasselblad and other brands but we focused on the craft instead of arguing about the gear.
Recently, I started to shoot more with medium format. There are several reasons for that, which I explained in the article you can read here. In short, my Renatus Project, a long-dreamt-of fixation, and my curiosity, prompted me to explore the world of medium format.
I never preached the supremacy of medium format over other formats. Quite the opposite. I always said that this is DIFFERENT – you may like this “different” or not. There is no question that every format has its advantages and disadvantages. It is you who decide what you need for your photography. Based on multiple conversations and general consensus shouted from the rooftops by YouTube channels and blogs, I think most agree that the camera we work with is our personal choice and it should not affect the way our work is perceived. A great image is a great image. Period.
This is when the monster came out of hiding. Once I started to shoot more with medium format, I quickly found out that this loud chorus of “gear doesn’t matter” is just big noise made by photographic warriors to gain followers, to climb the barricade of photographic justice and succumb to a popularity contest rather than live by your own convictions. The whole thing turned out to be a massive scam.
How did I find out? Well, when I started shooting with medium format and publishing my work, I could safely say that the quality of my work didn’t deteriorate. Based on feedback from my severest critics, I kept producing great imagery but…there was one problem. This imagery was being crafted with the wrong gear!
Yes, you read that right. First, the chorus didn’t mince its words: “You don’t shoot street photography with medium format (I don’t do street photography, but that is a subject for another article). You just don’t.” Stupid me! If I had only known there were cameras I couldn’t use for certain genres, I would be a much better photographer. I have to admit that this gear correctness has surprised me. I somehow thought that the camera is just a tool.
Second, the internet mob didn’t finish there. How could I dare to shoot with medium format if just a year ago I was running around the streets of New York or London with the X100F? The litany of comments followed: “This is ridiculous,” “good luck with this brick,” “your images are still great, but they lose something because of your gear choice.” I’ve omitted some of the most entertaining examples, like: “It is so inappropriate to walk with such an expensive camera.” Apparently, the images no longer matter because they are being taken with the wrong camera! Who knew?
Third, the chorus didn’t stop there. When I thought I’d heard it all, another assertion was made. We don’t like your work anymore because you have become “elitist.” That’s right. You read it right! (If I wanted to be honest, I would say – I wish – but this is unfortunately not the case).
All the comments told me one thing: Those preachers of the “gear doesn’t matter” gospel who hop from forum to forum to reinforce their dedication to photography will gladly approve your imagery as long as…you shoot it with mob-approved gear. God forbid you show up with a Leica – you are clearly a snob. Medium format – you are quickly becoming an enemy of the people. Phase One – this must be a conspiracy – the equivalent of the political 1%. The proletarian mob has spoken!
Do I sound angry? You’re absolutely right. I am not going to share my financial situation with the world but let me say this: I would never blame anybody for the fact that I have been rebuilding my life, also financially, after years of a serious health crisis. Nor would I apologize for working 24/7 for the love of this craft. I received the GFX50S as a very generous gift from incredible people, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to afford it. So yes, it hurts when people some I call friends try to paint me as an elitist who walks with his nose in the air and jets for the weekend to Europe (unfortunately in economy class) to shoot with his fancy medium format camera.
I have never succumbed to bullies on the internet and I never will. What bullies fear the most is intelligent and civil conversation, free of expletives and shouting. What photographic bullies fear even more is great imagery! Eventually they always leave, delete their comments and go into hiding. Sorry, you picked on the wrong guy.
The camera doesn’t matter? Think again!
P.S. Some of you ask me politely and intelligently about reasoning behind my recent gear choices and this is absolutely fine. This article is not directed at you. I am always open for a great conversation.
Here is some imagery taken during my recent trip to New York. Of course, all taken with my “elitist” gear.