You need better gear. Not.

rey spadoni

It’s going to be a recurring theme for me this year: better pictures, not better gear.  I’ll apologize in advance if I start to sound like a broken record about it, but it is the single greatest photographic insight I’ve gained in the past ten years.  Now if you had asked me before, I would have told you that I sincerely believed that “the camera doesn’t matter.”  That Carlos Santana is always going to sound like a master on the cheapest and crappiest guitar ever made and I’m going to sound like a hack on the Stradivarius of guitars.  My head would have been all over that.  But now my heart’s caught up too.

So, I’ve been trying to feed my inspiration, not my appetite for the latest and greatest.  Since I have a long commute, I’ve become quite attached over the years to photography-themed podcasts, of which there are many.  Unfortunately, most seem to fall into one of two categories: (1) endless diatribes on new cameras, lenses, software, etc. and (2) interviews with those who have made it and who are, ta da, trying to sell you on their latest e-book, workshop, product, whatever.  The first type are blatant in their attempt to whip you up into a buy, buy, buy frenzy while the second type are only marginally veiled infomercials and not nearly subtle enough for their own good.

So, in this vanilla sea of marketing blah, blah, blah… I’ve found a tasty rum raisin alternative.  Ibarionex Perello runs a site (see here) and podcast called The Candid Frame.


Mr. Perello’s decidedly non-gear infused discussions with accomplished photographers (who, of course, are promoting something) are different from all the rest in that we gain real insights into the work and interests of the artists being interviewed.  He always asks insightful and even unexpected questions, no doubt the product of solid prep work, which reveal unique and interesting glimpses.  Many other podcasters cover questions like: “how did you first get into photography?” and “tell us something about how you developed your style”.  Mr. Perello probes deeper, giving his listeners something we can relate to and, hopefully, draw from ourselves.  Every time I finish one of The Candid Frame shows, I don’t want to dial up Amazon and order something new.  I want to become a better photographer.

Check it out.

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16 Responses to You need better gear. Not.

  1. Good morning Rey,

    I checked out Mr. Perello’s blog, and right off the bat, I’m impressed. I found a candid interview of Mr. David DuChemin…a photographer I greatly admire: not only do I buy AND READ Mr. DuChemin’s books (NOT expensive, but highly recommended), but I particularly LIKE his photography. If this is the type of material covered in Mr. Perello’s blog, this is certainly worth investigating. Thank you.

    Frank V.

    • Rey says:

      Frank – thanks for your comment and I’m glad you like the podcast. I too am a fan of David DuChemin, as a photographer and writer, and I particularly like his emphasis on “vision”.


  2. roythoman says:

    Better pictures, not better gear is a great way to approach your photography. I have been photographing that way for years now. Admittedly it has been mostly out of necessity, but I have always tried to create the best image that I possibly can. I’m going to check out that podcast, thanks for sharing it.

  3. BTW, Rey…

    Great image of the guitar fretboard. Who knew you were a musician as well? It seems the two disciplines work well together (i.e. music and photography).

    Frank V.

    • Rey says:

      Thank you, Frank. Confession: I’m not really a musician. That’s Jennifer Knapp’s guitar and I’m more at home photographing those than anything else.

  4. LaRee says:

    Wonderful post! I’ve been battling the equipment urge and I keep reminding myself that I need to be better with the gear I already own. I’ll have to check out The Candid Frame. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  5. Prentis says:

    With reference to the “equipment urge” part of this discussion, I am one that wouldn’t be comfortable having only a cell phone camera, for instance. For me there would be just too many compromises in other than favorable light conditions. I also would feel limited in lens choice for certain subjects. In a previous post here I talked about matching photographic goals with equipment.

    My personal comfort level of equipment includes: 1) a camera body with sensor large enough for good high ISO noise performance and dynamic range, 2) a selection of lenses that cover narrow depth of focus (see guitar shot above), low light, and wide angle through telephoto focal lengths (which can be done with only two or three lenses), 3) a good tripod, 4) an off-board flash (or at minimum an on-board flash that can be pointed in different directions) and, 5) powerful post processing software.

    I suppose the litmus test is this. Once the equipment in our bag isn’t getting in the way of your creativity (at whatever personal level you choose), use what you have and get shooting.

    My $0.02

  6. Ed Shields says:

    Thanks for the excellent tip. I’ve only had time to listen to one but I’ve already subscribed. And since one good tip deserves another one you may like, if you’re not already aware of it, is Derrick Story’s “TheDigitalStory” weekly podcast. He generally doesn’t do interviews but it’s photography centric not gear centric. It’s worth a listen.


    • Rey says:

      Thanks, Ed. Actually, “The Digital Story” is a regular on my podcast playlist…

      I like Derrick’s no nonsense style. And I also like that he’s very fond of the Olympus EM5. Oh wait… the gear doesn’t matter…

  7. Ed Shields says:

    I know, I have one too. But I’m counting on you to keep me honest in 2013 and adhere to the ….gear doesn’t matter thing.

  8. Clanmother says:

    Thank you for the recommendation! I always learn something stopping by….

  9. Pingback: And Now, Some Remedies | 2 Guys Photo

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