Does Camera Gear Make the Photographer?

Photography

Dear Jasmine,
I am a photographer. I shot several weddings and clients have always been very happy with the final product. However I use a canon 550d. I would love to buy more expensive equipment but i honestly can’t afford it at the moment. A couple has booked me as a photographer for their wedding in September. The bride just told me that the groom is a photographer himself and I am now panicking. Nobody asked me what kind of equipment I have but should I tell them? Is it embarassing going to a photographer’s wedding with a canon 550d?
Sincerely,
Gear Fear

Dear Gear Fear,
First things first, and I want to be very clear about this: gear does not make the photographer, the photographer makes the gear. Before you get caught up in labels and price tags, please understand that if you know how to properly use your gear, you can produce beautiful work. Can a professional-grade camera perform better? Yes. But simply having a nice camera isn’t enough…you need to know how to use it.

When I first started shooting weddings, I used a Canon 20D (which sat squarely in the “pro-sumer” camera category, nicer than a consumer camera, but not as nice as a professional camera) and I distinctly remember a wedding guest approaching me with his Canon 5D. He told me he was a dentist and boasted about how much better his camera was than mine. I wanted to die, melt right into the floor of the reception. But as he walked away, I reminded myself that he was shooting in Auto Mode and didn’t know the last thing about his gear, whereas I understood how to leverage my equipment and–quite frankly–out shoot him solely from a technical perspective.

Having said that, I’d highly encourage you to do the following:
1. If you suspect your client will notice your camera and second-guess his decision, it may be best to be forthcoming. Be sure to note that the portfolio they saw when they booked you was produced with your Canon 550d and you’re confident you can deliver the same quality.
2. If you can’t shake the doubt and truly believe the client will second-guess your ability, you can rent a different camera. I truly understand the difficulty and expense of getting a business off the ground, but you have to also understand investing in things that will help you grow and strengthen your portfolio. I rented gear for almost every wedding my first year of business (I explained how it worked for me here) and I believe it helped me improve as an artist…and the same can be said for you, as well as make you confident as you approach the wedding day.

I wish you only the best, Gear Fear, and regardless of the path you choose informing your clients, trust the person holding the camera, not the camera itself.
Own Who You Are,
j*