Lucky Man

Posted in: Inspiration

The more I read photography and gadget blogs to keep up with the latest technology, the more I dream about the ultimate rig of camera bodies and lenses, or the most eclectic lighting system, or how I would load up a computer to do the things I do at breakneck speeds. I admire how far we advance technologically with each passing year and pine over the newest of the shiniest electronics. Who hasn’t wondered what a 65″ TV that’s less than an inch thick would look like over their fireplace?

I often will price out the ultimate photography setup – from lighting modifiers down to the fastest glass money can buy. The number isn’t pretty either, so I usually end up pricing out the budget versions of the same equipment just to see what it would cost. I know I will eventually move to a full frame camera and get the Nikon 70-200 F/2.8 VR II as well as the 24-70mm f/2.8. In fact Adorama has a great kit of a D700 with those two lenses, but I just can’t justify that price (yet).

For now, I’m more than happy to use the tools that I’ve got. In fact, I’ve played with a 70-200 f/2.8 and compared the shots with my much more affordable 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G and the results are identical when shooting with adequate light. My Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 is the DX equivalent to the 24-70mm, and it performs perfectly well. Ever since I got that lens it’s been the one that stays on my camera the most – it’s a versatile workhorse. Sure I’d like a 50mm f/1.4 AFS lens, but my classic Nikon 50mm f/1.8 that my wife bought me for Christmas a couple of years ago works like a champ. I could go on an on – don’t even get me started about lighting gear!

The point is that I really want this stuff but I don’t really need it. I’ve never found myself thinking that I couldn’t create something because my equipment wasn’t the top of the line stuff. Prestige is a very slick thing. It makes you desire the stuff you think you need, but you really only desire it because of it’s forbidding price or scarcity. Sure that full frame camera that shoots clean files at ISO 6400 coupled with that fast zoom lens that lets in a whole stop of light more will let you get shots you just can’t get with the cheap stuff, but the masters of years before got the job done with much less gear and relied on their skills to make things happen – not their wallets.

This all comes down to a simple fact about life. If you’re in a position where the things you dream about are not critical to your survival, then you are in a really good place. My mind goes back to our most recent event at the children’s hospital. I asked a mother if she would like to get her picture taken with her child and she said, “I don’t know if I can – it’s been a really rough week”. Well, little did I know at the time that her precious child had been diagnosed with the big C just four days earlier. This was all fresh to her and here she was, trying to cope and be strong for a child who was still all smiles and as sweet as can be, wishing that she could have a healthy child again. That’s a dream worth pining over. It’s moments like that that make me realize that I’m a lucky man ’cause I just don’t need what I want.

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  • Comment by James Hoeffner — December 25, 2010 @ 11:33 am

    This was a wonderful read for a Christmas morning. You addressed the issue of “techno lust” (which I always run a fever) in a way I have not read before. You also addressed the issues of priorities in life in a unique manner.

    You spoke the truth.

    And you do great work. I love the diner on the beach. Is that HDR?

    Question I have: During the 60s, it seemed that the majority of British musicians had started in art school and made their way to music. I am observing the reverse to be true and you are one example. Do you have an explanation?

  • Comment by Joe — December 25, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

    Thank you James! I’m not sure which photo you are referring to, but it might be the trailer (it looks like an old school diner). If so, then no, that’s not HDR, but I did improve the dynamic range by adjusting the shadows and highlights in Lightroom.

    In regards to your question, I had a similar idea about musicians getting into technological careers. In fact, my first real technological job I took while I was in school was at an advertising company on Madison Avenue and the IT manager was the guitarist for Mephaskapheles. Furthermore, a lot of my colleagues who are IT folks also love photography. There is a definite crossroad between the musical mind and the technical mind, and photography really taps into both the creative and geek sides of your brain, so it is no coincidence that these trades intersect!

    Thanks for your feedback – it really means a lot to me. Have a great holiday!

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