On Photography

June 25, 2014

I try not to take it personally since I get this alot but when someone praises my photos and immediately follows up with a question about what camera I use, I can't help but feel like it's a backhanded compliment of sorts. That question can make it feel like they think that the camera does all the work. Some people are just genuinely curious but there are also those who actually believe that if they had the same camera/lens as someone, it would magically make them take the same photos. Oh if only it were that easy! That's why I love this story since it perfectly illustrates the absurdity of this notion. Having a good camera is fantastic but it's just a tool and there is so much more that goes into a good photograph like composition, lighting, perspective, etc.

For the record, I take all my photos either with a Fuji X100 or Canon 7D. The lenses I use most are a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II or Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L USM. Both cameras allow me to shoot in manual mode which I do about 90% of the time because I don't like to have to post-process my photos. I worked in the photography industry for a number of years in various capacities including as an assistant, production manager and editor. Now I'm on my own as a freelance photographer with a penchant for doll photography. I learned how to shoot on a Canon AE-1 35mm SLR (Canon all the way!) and I'm still constantly learning. I've been tempted to revisit my old camera since I actually miss analog photography at times. Here is some of my old film work which I also styled as well.

Story Image Source: Framingham Camera Club
57 comments on "On Photography"
  1. gorgeous post! very gorgeous and inspiring ♥

    New style post on the blog dear ♥

  2. I love that quote. I'll have to share it with hubby because he feels the same way about it :)

  3. Haha oh my gosh that is such a great quote! I'm not a "real" photographer, but I still definitely feel your pain!
    And ahh wow those photos are yours!? They are so amazing! I especially love the top two--incredible!! You definitely should post more of your photography on this blog!!!

    <(') Hoda | JooJoo Azad ~ Free Bird

  4. Ohh I really want to up grade my Canon T2i. I know what you mean, I mean it takes practice to learn how to actually use a dslr it's the person behind the lens that takes the picture. I just think that some people think the camera does all the work but if you don't know how to use the settings in a dslr pictures won't turn out quite right. If you know what I mean.

  5. Best. Quote (mini-story). Ever. I actually think I would just stare at someone if they said my camera did an awesome job. I do think the tool is important - but obviously it's the eye behind it that does the real work...
    Love your old work, too.

  6. Your film work is gorgeous, Rowena. I can see why you would wanna re-visit using it. And yeah....people are just weird sometimes with what they say,you know? Don't mind them:D

  7. what a great quote! a camera is only as good as the photographer who uses it. I've known people who buy the top of the line machine with all the accessories and have no clue how to use it or understand the basics of how it works. composition, light, and perspective; those are the essentials in my opinion. I love your photography, by the way. ;)

  8. You take marvellous photos doll, I get the same thing really. I think a lot of photographers do. Not sure if its because most use a digital camera these days or what, but it still takes a lot of skill to use a camera, no matter if its digital or film. Both come with their instructions and need of skill and eye. People assume a more expensive camera will get you automatic great pictures and that's not true, you still need to know how to use the camera and what settings to have it at, just like a film camera. I always get asked what camera when people see my photos, sometimes I don't mind and other times it's annoying, but we just have to keep doing what we do :)) xx

  9. You made an amazing point I believe is not the camera is how the photographer looks at an image and take the pictures, I feel the same when it comes to cooking and someone tells me I must have a great kitchen like the kitchen cook it. You take amazing images and you have a great eye for photography.

  10. Hi Rowena! Ahah, that quote is the best I ever read so far, I just to save it as well as I can figure out what you feel!:) I have a huge passion for photography but I need to and Id love to improve as I know Im still at the begin. Im very impressed everytime I see your shots, you have to share them more often dear as they are marvelous as the jobs you have posted now, too gorgeous, also for the styling. You are an artist Rowena, wish I was as much good as you, I didnt know you worked in the photography industry for many years, that makes me admire you even more!:) Many hugs! xo

  11. i do also think this is a great quote and an inspirational issue.

    Royal Wang,stay in touch


  12. Great post! You take brilliant photos and I would never for one moment think that it was all down to the camera, I was taking a photo of a friend and he really liked the way they were turning out so he asked if he could take my photo and let's just say I looked as if I had put on an extra 60kgs it wasn't flattering. He looked at the photo and proceeded to tell me how he didn't know why it turned out so badly saying "I did exactly what you did, pointed and took the photo" so i completely understand what you are saying.
    Those photos are beautiful by the way x


  13. This comment blew me away! So fascinating. I love that you shared these awesome photos as well. It's so cool that you have that background. I'd love to see more! Yes, I'm so curious to know the tools of one's trade but I do know that it's the artist who makes the art. I love being reminded of this because it inspires me to improve my work even though I don't have the fanciest equipment! Thank you!

  14. Hi Rowena, I have to agree, its really not the camera, its the photographer, a camera dent pick the lighting, the angle and the object/subject. Its the talented eye (like yours) thats truly makes a photo beautiful. Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by :)

  15. I love that 'poster' that you posted. I feel you on that one... ;)

  16. I shake my head hearing that type of comment, very insulting. Camera is just a tool. What really creates the magic is a person behind it who has to be talented and artistic to bring out the beauty/life in the objects he/she shoots. Great post, Rowena. Those photos are classy, your photos always catch my eyes.

  17. I've always admired your eye. I do admit I am always curious about the lenses people use though because I want to know for my own benefit since I'm still learning about different lenses. So hopefully you take it as a question for my own learning if I ever forget and ask you about your lens!
    I love your older images as well. These types of photos keep inspiring me to learn more about photography!

    little luxury list formerly Chic 'n Cheap Living

  18. i get that a lot as well! i try not to let it bother me but sometimes it just really really bugs the living daylights out of me.

  19. omg love that photographer incident.... and the pictures too
    btw do check out my new post
    stay in touch

  20. That is a great quote and so true, a great photographer is not made by the equipment, is the talent behind it, and you my dear have a lot of that :)

  21. Great quote and amazing pics..... <3!!!!
    Interesting post, as usual, Rowena!!!!
    Ciao bellissima!

  22. a wonderful quote :)
    Happy day dear!

  23. It's so cool to see some of your old film work! I've had a DSLR for over 3 years now and there's still so so much that I don't know. One day I think I'd like to take a class!

  24. Haha this is a good one, my friend *_^ I couldn't agree more with you! the camera is only as good as the person behind the lens composing the shots and capturing the moment! Didn't know that you have been in the photography industry, now it explains these good pictures *_^

    Awesome cool work! Keep them coming, my dearie. Hope you are having a magical week:))

  25. Funny quote! People think because art and photography are fun, that they aren't real jobs. And that there isn't a lot of experience and knowledge that goes into it. I miss my old Pentax 35 mm that my grandfather handed down to me. I used it in a photography class back when I was in university. ( I won't tell you how many years ago that was, but we didn't have digital cameras then.) I had so much fun with my own dark room developing my own film! And there was more of a surprise factor, because you really didn't know what was going to come out of the camera:)

  26. Isn't it funny how that works???? My sister is a photographer and I have learned through her and her work that the magic and the art comes from the person...not the camera. The lighting and the subject and the moment...ah....these things do not come from the camera and it is so obvious from seeing your pieces up there friend! Your compositions are stunning and absolutely breath taking!!! Being an artist can be hard work...unless you are one...you just don't get it!!! Happy week to you lady! Nicole xoxo

  27. Your photos look great, and I know nothing about cameras, but I think it's the talent you have! :)

    AJ | TheAJMinute

  28. Wowww
    So interesting (as alwaays) my sweet Rowena.
    Amazing pics.
    Maggie D.
    The Indian Savage Diary

  29. Great photos and post, dear Rowena!!!
    Have a good week!! and my like's in bloglovin for you!!!:)))

    Besos, desde España, Marcela♥

  30. I love your blog so much! :D Have an amazing day!


  31. gosh, I never thought about it that way. I like that quote though. What a nice way to bring it back. =D haha.
    Thanks for sharing your info on your camera of choice. =)

  32. This is a great story to illustrate the point. I have heard people ask others this question before!

    Jessica @ Sunny Days and Starry Nights

  33. That's a great quote! I feel like maybe it's not as much a backhanded complement as it is them wondering what they are doing wrong themselves and trying to get a better camera for a leg up? I know my last camera wasn't the best so I would ask because I wanted to look into brands. I'm also a terrible photographer though and I know it. ;)

    Your photos are wonderful as always!!

  34. Word, the Fuji X100 is FRICKEN ADORABLE. And holy mother of photography resumes--I'd love to work in the photography industry one day--I'm just imagining all the things I would learn from that. And I do apologize if my question regarding your camera + lens felt like a backhand compliment, though I am genuinely interested in the tools people use and what they think of it...kinda like looking up makeup reviews...but not for makeup. I think it's better to get an opinion of a lens from someone you know/trust, since you know what they're shooting and how they use it. But in general, I'm a fan of your photography!

  35. I love that quote that you have!
    I understand exactly what you are saying here. The type of camera that you use is important, but it all comes down to the person behind the camera!! You have to know what each button and control means and when to use each setting!


  36. The quote lol
    Love this post, anyway I just followed your blog :)


  37. I LOVE the story! But I also think that you shouldn't take the camera question so personally... I think people love your photos and want theirs to be like yours, so the camera question is a natural and most obvious one... :)

  38. So great pics!


  39. Great photos, I always asked that question and never thought about it that way. Nice quote too.

  40. I don't think most people mean it that way when they ask this but I get it. I am a graphic designer so boy do I get it. So many people think the software does all the work and you just click a couple of buttons on the keyboard. It is sort of mind blowing really. This type of work is not just talent which of course you have to have but also a SKILL. Love the analog b&w photos...really awesome I thought they were from an editorial from the the late 80s or early 90s

    Allie of ALLIE NYC

  41. Haha that Sam Haskins quote is too funny and too damn right! Of course the tool in hand is important, but a hammer isn't going to hammer the nail into the wall itself! There are so many creative photographers that take beautiful pictures I could only wish to take at various angles and with different backdrops, and you should get credit where credit's due. For all the photos you take, never mind the camera or the lens or the filter, an applause is due. Rosemary x


  42. Love the quote! Good equipment definitely helps but I think photography is part art and part science (physics). Not easy at all! Some people don't think at all. I have friends and family who think blogging and fashion is so easy and I get to hear ridiculous comments all the time. You have the talent and it's easy to see that. Thanks for sharing your work. :)

    Heel in Mint

  43. I enjoyed this post so much! Lookin forward on your next one.

    I AM ALSO ON: Instagram @kennydaily, Bloglovin and Facebook

    What Kenny Hearts a Fashion and Decor Blog

  44. Hi.
    This blog is very interesting;) I like it:)
    maybe we can follow each other? let me know! <3
    here is my blog: shootingdiamond.blogspot.com

  45. I've never thought about the topic in this way before, you've opened my eyes! That quote is being saved to my favourites so I can churn it out every time I hear someone say something similar to a good photographer! Have a lovely weekend :)

    - I follow back on Bloglovin' -


  46. You have many reason, is the photgraper not the camera! :)


  47. Ha! So very true. It's not the tool it's the artist.

  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

  49. I really love that quote a lot and I find myself laughing and googling to find out who Sam Haskins is. I'm so inspired to steal this little quote of your page to put it in my FB inspirational album. May I?

    That aside, I totally get what you mean. Yes, I know many people genuinely want to know what camera you are using (oops, have I asked you before? I don't think so right?) and are asking out of curiosity but sometimes these comments would pinch a little. Well, even if you pass me a good camera, I think I'm too lazy to learn how to use the manual mode well. I'm always inspired by your photos. your good photography skills, your eye for detail, your artistic direction. I've always loved Ian and Rena's photoshoot. The background you chose to shoot them, the way you style them etc. Even your products posts have got such lovely pictures to accompany them. All these really take up time and effort and definitely, a good camera is the last thing on my mind whenever I view awesome pictures. The black and white work you featured over here is really beautiful. Love the style of these pictures. You must have had a treasure trove of portfolio. Do share them here!

  50. I've always admired your photography skills Rowena. You always do an amazing job and the pictures in your photography shop are outstanding. Don't take offense, about the what type of camera do you use question. When I was a new blogger I use to ask people all the time because I was amazed at how beautiful all the photos looked on everyone's blog. HaHaHa Later did I realize it was a skill too! It definitely goes hand in hand! This will definitely help others.

  51. I've honestly never even thought about that question this way until you mentioned it. I think it makes sense though. Just because someone has a good camera doesn't mean you're able to take good photos. Our eyes see things different and we are all on a different level of expertise when it comes to taking photos! Glad you brought this point up :)

  52. You look great!! Love the scenery! It's indeed breathtaking! And love your chilled out casual and yet smart look :)

    long chiffon dress / smokey eye makeup / indian designer dress


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