What makes a good photographer?

Photography is the power of observation, not the application of technology. (Ken Rockwell)

I’ve been reading a lot of Ken Rockwell’s articles lately. He’s a professional photography who, several years ago, started posting reviews and his opinions on various photographic techniques, issues, and technology. He’s very opinionated and sometimes what he has to say flies in the face of what everyone else seems to think, but for the most part I think that he has a lot of valuable information and insight.

One of the key messages he repeats over and over again is that the quality and cost of your equipment (camera, lens, accessories, editing software, etc.) does not guarantee great photos. Yes, good equipment can help, but it doesn’t make you a good photographer.

I agree. I’ve seen some amazing photos come from cheap point n’ shoot cameras and some ho-hum photographs from so called professionals with ten’s of thousands of dollars worth of fancy equipment. All the fancy lens and photoshopping in the world cannot turn a boring photo into a masterpiece.

Just look at HDR. HDR can change a photo into art. Some of the HDR photos I have seen are breathtaking. But, most of what I have seen (even from professionals who appear to focus almost exclusively on HDR) is boring or just plain weird looking. A clay wall is just a clay wall, no matter how much effort you put into perfecting a HDR picture of it. To make an amazing HDR photo, you first need a great (or at very least interesting) photo.

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