It’s not just the camera that takes the photo

I came across this fantastic post from US photographer Erin Farrell a while ago, which demonstrates perfectly that just because you have an expensive camera, it doesn’t make you a great photographer. 


I am constantly asked by friends and clients what camera they should upgrade to, or what lens or bit of kit they should buy so they can take better photos. Many people assume that by spending money on better kit will somehow make them take better photographs. But they’ve never actually taken time to learn how to use the camera they already have! It’s like asking what car you should upgrade to when you haven’t even learnt to drive yet! Instead what people should be asking, is how to find the best light or what’s the best setting to have their camera on. 


The truth is that you don’t need mega expensive equipment in order to take photos that you’ll be really proud of. You just need an entry level DSLR (which you can get for around £300) and then learn the essential things you need to know about taking great photographs and the best settings to use the camera on. 


In preparation for the first of my photography workshop for parents which is this Saturday, I decided to try a little experiment. Similar to the one on Erin Farrell’s blog, but flipping it around. So instead of handing a non-professional photographer a professional camera, I wanted to see what a professional (me!) could do with an entry level camera and lens. My brother-in-law kindly took me up on my challenge and we took the kids for a walk down to the local corner shop near my parents house and took photos. I told him to use the camera how he normally does and shoot how he normally would. Here are the photos he took…
Non-professional using a non-professional camera (Canon 400D, Canon 50mm F1.8 lens) 



Then I took his camera, using the settings that I will be teaching in my workshops and these are the images that I captured. I need to just say here that these are straight out of the camera, which means I haven’t done anything to them in post processing. I would never normally show un-edited photos on my blog so I’m pretty nervous about this. It feels like going out for dinner without a scrap of make up on! 
Professional using a non-professional camera 

So this is at the same time, on the same day, same location, same camera and same kids. And I haven’t used any extra equipment. I really hope you can see quite a difference! Now I’m not saying that professionals can set up a business using non-professional equipment and hardly any experience (please no!); there are a whole host of reasons why professional equipment (and a huge amount of experience) is necessary to become a pro which I’m not going to go into here. But I’m passionate about showing people that these entry-level DSLR cameras (which so many people own) are capable of fantastic results if you know how to use them. And hopefully this little experiment will also show you that you won’t become a better photographer just by splashing out money on better kit. Remember that old adage, it’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it that counts!


Here are a couple of the images that I took to show you the difference once they have been edited (I couldn’t resist!) 




I don’t teach post-production on my workshops as it’s far more important to learn how to get it right in camera. And you don’t want to spend hours in front of your computer editing all of your family snaps! I also wanted to show you these before and afters so you can see how I spend time editing each and every image for my clients until they are perfect. I certainly don’t do this with all of my family snaps!


I hope you liked my experiment and it’s made you see that it’s really not just the camera that takes the photo. A huge thank you to Nathan for letting me use his camera and his photos! 

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  • Kimbo Ward

    What a great blog post – you are one of the reasons I am starting out as a ‘photographer’ – so inspiring. Sitting trawling through your blog looking at all the great photos. Thankyou :-)

    • Vicki Knights

      Ah thanks Kimberley, that’s great to hear that I inspired you to start up your business. And I’m pleased that people are still reading my old blog posts! x

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