It Must Be the Gear

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All Images (c) Alvin Valentierra

It's not what type of gear a photographer uses, it's how he or she uses it. I'm sure you have heard this sentiment in some shape or form. I for one am a firm believer in this idea, there is nothing more upsetting for me as a photographer than when someone tells me "your camera takes good pictures." I feel that statement takes credit away from me as an artist; photographers are not just button-pushers.

Every photograph I have taken has been thought out and calculated, which I believe is the case for most photographers. Would you ever tell Picasso that the brushes he used made great paintings, or Doctor Woo that the needles he uses make awesome tattoos? I bet you wouldn't because that is a pretty ridiculous statement to make. Don't get me wrong, yes gear definitely helps, but what good is the "best" gear in the world if you don't know how to work it?

I am a few days away from my two-year anniversary of the date I purchased my first camera, the Canon T5i. The T5i is still the only camera I use aside from my iPhone on occasion. I use it to shoot all my city and urban landscape photos. When I share this information with others, they are often surprised. I take that as a compliment, because it just goes to show you that it's not the gear, rather the person behind the gear. The best advice I can offer other new photographers is to learn your camera -- I mean really learn your camera. Find out what its capable of and what its not, then try to figure out what techniques you can use to make it capable if possible. Learn what subject matter you love to shoot the most. For me, my favorite subject to shoot is New York City's urban landscape.

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For beginners who aren't sure where to begin, I suggest you try to shoot everything you can. When I started off, I figured out pretty quickly that I loved to shoot street and urban landscape photos, however, I still shot everything I could to determine what exactly peaked my interest and what didn't. Study the works of other photographers that inspire you, find out what is it about their work that you find interesting, then try to duplicate it. This will help you develop technique, and begin to train your brain to think critically about what it takes to create a photograph, and how you can learn to use the gear you have to achieve your desired style. Only then you will begin to realize that this has nothing to do with what gear you are using, but plays a huge role in ones development as a photographer.

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As I reflect on the past two years of my journey as a photographer I realize that often my best and most satisfying work has come from my passion projects and non-commissioned work. I believe most artist can relate to that statement. Needless to say I still enjoy and get great fulfillment from my commissioned projects as well, there aren't to many greater feelings than someone believing in your work so much that they want to hire you for your talent. It is a pretty awesome feeling indeed, just remember to never let anyone down play your talent by giving all the credit to the equipment you use.

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Follow my work on my Instagram: @imgood_alvino1128.