I recently read a post over at Fstoppers (www.fstoppers.com) discussing listing photographic gear one uses in addition to their other info on their social media and other web presence(s). The author was looking for opinions on this practice. This got me thinking and eventually, writing…
The 3 R’s, Results Results Results
I don’t post my equipment list on my client facing website and social media spaces and I have no desire to. If I’m sharing my photographic work and trying entice potential clients to contact me, I want them to see the results, not the process.
There are cases where I do post this information for sharing the details with other photographers and friends. These are in the spirit of education and support, not trying to impress potential clients with brand names.
In most cases , I don’t believe my clients care what camera, lens, or other gear I use to create an image for them. They DO care that I know how to use that gear to produce the images they are looking for. The results, as they say, speak for themselves and clients who approach me saw my work and liked what they saw.
“Are there clients who insist you have certain equipment?”
In my experience, no, I haven’t had an individual (non-corporate) client specify certain gear needed to be used, but I have no doubt those people are out there. I have worked with clients where they asked about what gear I was using while actually at the shoot.
These situations have come up because they were interested in photography itself and they were curious about what I was using and why. In those cases I’m glad to take a few minutes to talk about it. Let’s face it, when photographers get together we love to talk about our equipment. We often can’t help ourselves.
On the other hand, there are certain situations where a client might have good reason to specify equipment. Magazines and other media might have minimum requirements for resolution needed for print. In other cases, a specific camera may be needed to fit into a post-production workflow.
In the above scenarios, the clients aren’t saying that your work and results aren’t good, but they need certain technical aspects to be met. If I don’t have the needed gear in those cases I’ll rent it if I really want the job.
Who Cares What Gear You Use
Unfortunately there are people that feel you need to use certain equipment to be considered “professional”. In fact, an article from Brides Magazine recently went viral across several photography websites for advising brides to make sure that the photographer uses “Cannon or Nikon” equipment. And yes, that is how the author spelled Canon.
The article was updated later to correct this piece of misinformation but the fact is that this sort of opinion that “the camera makes the photographer” is more prevalent than one might think. I hate to say it but sometimes this attitude even comes from fellow photographers (not any that I spend time with though).
If a client is going to insist I use certain gear for their shoot and it isn’t for a technical requirement like mentioned above, then I’m happy to politely decline the job. If they feel that my skills cannot produce the image needed unless I use a "CaNikon 9000 mkVIII" then I do not want them as a client.
Look at the headshot below. Can you tell what camera/lens combination was used?
Does it matter in the final results?
Your Actions Define You as Professional
On the flip side of things, I have looked down my nose at other photographers when they do things I feel are “unprofessional”. Last year I was attending an event where a photographer had been hired to provide photos of the event.
I don’t shoot events myself very often but when I do, I pride myself in being discreet. I make every effort to minimize creating any sort of distraction from the speakers and presenters at the event.
This photographer that was hired was holding a Nikon D810 with a large flash with a battery pack hanging at his waist. He also was carrying a brown messenger bag and was wearing clothes that appeared to have come from the the 70’s by way of the local vintage clothing store.
I recall a lot of details about him because he just walked about the event space as if no one could see him. This included walking right up in front of the panel of presenters and firing his flash in their faces from about 15 feet.
I heard from the organizers later that they were appalled at this photographers lack of discretion. They couldn’t believe he just walked right up in front blocking attendee’s view of the speakers. I don’t believe they will hire him again despite his “professional” equipment.
Not a License to Skimp
I want to be sure that readers understand I’m not suggesting any old point and shoot camera will be appropriate gear to use for the working photographer. Canon and Nikon have their reputation and “household name-ness” by offering durable and versatile equipment. They (and some others) also offer professional services for working pros like fast repair turnarounds, loaner gear, and the like.
Panasonic, Pentax, Olympus, and several other camera brands also make equipment that can handle the heavy usage and deliver excellent image quality needed by a working professional. What is important is that whatever camera gear one shoots with it should be reliable and up to the task.
The brand name of the camera isn’t going to be in your delivered images, that’s 100% you.