I get this question all the time. Too much honestly. The problem is people aren’t happy with my answer: it doesn’t really matter. A couple of years ago, I was at a Travel Bloggers conference in New York City. Gary Arndt, a successful photography blogger, was giving a speech about the importance of photography online. I’ll never forget his line, “Nothing pisses me off more as a photographer as when people say, ‘oh Gary that’s a beautiful image, what kind of camera do you use?’ I mean go up to a [talented] writer…and say, ‘Great article. What kind of keyboard do you use?’”
(Thanks to the Art of Backpacking for recording this session on video, so I could actually quote it verbatim—another good thing about video!).
I think many get way too caught up with the ‘what camera should I use’ mentality and worrying about name brands or the latest gadgets & gizmos.
I am not saying that this has no importance, it does, but what I am saying is it’s not the most important. If you are new to video or are trying to improve your video skills, the most important thing is to learn how to make a good visual story. Sure you have to learn how to use your camera and gear, but at the same time, you need to know how to shoot, how to shoot well, how to get good sound, how to do good interviews, how to write for video, and how to edit together a compelling and interesting story.
Q: What makes good video?
A: NOT your camera, but:
- Understanding your gear
- Well shot, more professional looking video (shots & interviews)
- Good sound
- Good interviews (questions and the shots)
- Good, succinct, focused, conversational writing
- Well-paced editing
It is a common issue with teaching photography or videography today – people get distracted by gadgets and don’t bother learning true shooting and sound techniques first, to give them the right foundation they need to continue to elevate the quality of their video.
I do not want to get into the gear ‘rabbit hole’ since technology changes so fast, but that being said, you can expect some occasional equipment news and reviews on here and in my newsletter.
Overall, the best place to buy your gear (professional and consumer):
Almost always better deals PLUS if you are in the states (and don’t live in New York where they are located) – enjoy NO tax and NO shipping costs.
Nowadays, even the tiniest point and shoot camera shoots HD video and records sound.
Remember it truly is more what you do with it than what you are shooting on.
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I was just in there. Bought a new point and shoot. And in the spirit of this post…I will not say which one! 🙂
It's so true about the "your photos are great what camera do you use?" question. When I get asked that I always feel like saying whoa those great shots had something to do with the person operating the camera, and knowing what they are doing as well!
Great analogy with the writer/keyboard. Most of all I am glad that I'm not the only one who feels a little annoyed when they get asked that.
Thanks for stopping by Michelle. It was great to 'meet' you (sort of) at WTM. As you get into filming yourself…please let me know if I can help in any way. Good luck!
Thanks Lisa! Hopefully we will be in the same part of the world again and properly meet!
I'm out this weekend for a bit of a play/trial/practice run on the kit I currently have to see how it looks. Living in London gives me lots of options for great shots, which is great.
Hi Lisa, just found some cool travel blogs which lead me to yours which is good. However I wonder when people ask a pro photographer which equipment they are using is because of market domination, And suffer from the marketing experts using media/commercials to make people want Canon/Nikon etc. It also occurs in professional cycling where there are two companies which control 98% of the cycling components. Where as with the PC every one has a tiny bit of info and the separation of companies is less dominant. I think that novices (of which I am one) who ask are less concerned with what gear by company. But because we don’t understand how to differentiate gear and technique, that we want to know which lens, iso and other settings which make a produced photograph look the way they do. Maybe the pros who are annoyed with the question should give and answer stating which focal length et al.
PS the Weber BBQ restaurant in Chicago is my favorite steak house, and the town is great.
Thanks Brian! Do you mean my travel blog or this blog? 🙂 Yeah, I definitely focus on technique and try not to have novices get bogged down with the ‘best’ gear. Thanks for reading!