DISCLAIMER: when I refer to "great" in the blog below; I am obviously only referencing what I think is great, your view may differ. Great is such a relative word.
BTW. make sure you read right to the end...
I see a lot of people getting very defensive on social media, and in photographer circles, when they tell stories of that time when one of the "uneducated masses" dared to say something along the lines of "wow, that's a great / big / expense camera, it must take GREAT photos!". The standard response from the person holding / using said camera is to smile politely and nod in a non-committal fashion, whilst at the same time filing the encounter away for the inevitable discussion around the campfire about how people just don't understand our art, and comparing it to Shakespeare being asked whether his quill produced nice lines of ink on his parchment, and therefore missing the point that the quill is just a tool.
Well here is my alternative view:
Yes, I do have a great camera, and yes it does take great photos, and if I was using a less great camera then the photo's I could take would be less great.
There, I have said it, it is not all about me, I don't take photos in a vacuum, I need the camera to produce the vision that I see in my brain and my eyes. I can't do it without the camera, in the same way that the camera can't do it without me.
I worked my way up to a camera that matched my wants in terms quality of photos and ease of use, and I paid the necessary amount of money to get that quality. Why shouldn't I be proud of the fact that I have a camera that takes great photos?
The camera is a conduit between me and the images that I produce, and to add fuel to the fire I will add this: I (normally) need lightroom and or photoshop to achieve that image as well.
It is possible to take great photos with cheap / old cameras, but it is easier to produce great photos with a great camera. The flipside to that is that is it very easy to take rubbish photos, even with a great camera (I know, I have hundreds of these types of photos locked away in a dark corner of my computer) so it is not all about the camera, but it is always about the camera in some respect.
The image below is still one of my favourites, even though I took it on an entry level DSLR (Nikon D40x) back in 2009.
I have taken plenty of other photos at this same location, most of them with my current camera configuration, and a lot of them I really like as well. But there something about the light in this photo that I like a lot.
I think the photo is great despite the equipment it was taken on, not because of. Although I probably rank this image higher in my mental points table because I know how hard it was to achieve with the camera I was using.
Now, there is no way that the camera that took the above photo could produce this photo below that I took recently. The ability of my current camera to capture the range of light in this scene is far superior to the camera used above.
So what's my point?
Yes, the camera matters in the technical quality of the image and the ease of use to capture the image.
No, the camera doesn't matter in the feel / style / emotional connection or most importantly the subject / story of the image.
But don't be upset that someone comments / compliments the only part of the process of making a photo (the camera) that they can see and doesn't compliment your photographic brain for doing most of the work.
Be proud of what gear you have, wear it with pride (although maybe not with the branded neck strap!) and when someone says "that camera must take great photos", say "Hell yeah, do you want to see some?!", cause they are probably just trying to start a conversation, not be insulting!
** Foot note: The Great Camera I refer to in the 2 photos above, is my iphone. It is a great camera, but not the best I own.