The Three Jobs of your Camera

Thinking about cameras, as I too often do, it seems that a camera can fulfill a multiple of roles.

Most obviously, it makes an image. It produces a certain image quality, translating light into pixels or exposed film.

Secondly, just before that, it influences how you go about making the picture. The settings you use and how quickly or carefully you select them, how you position the camera and frame the image, how close you get, how the subject reacts to the object you’re carrying. How well it lets you see the potential image, or how it ‘gets out of the way’ rather than distracting you from the image.

Thirdly, it gets you out the door in the first place. It contributes to the motivation, the opportunity, the desire to make images. It might get you access to a client or location or subject, or at least a reason to be there.

A great camera design, to me, does all three.

There’s another common role that a camera can play, and that’s the impact of the camera that you don’t have. The one that distracts you from making photos. That keeps you indoors researching specs and watching YouTube reviews. The camera that you think will perform one or more of the other roles better than your current camera. It might. Or it might just be stopping you making the most of the camera you already have.

(I got sucked into this recently, but actually, the distracting research was useful in the end).


Headshot, portrait, street and documentary photographer in NYC and Jersey City

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