The Cheap Digicam Manifesto

The increasing prevalence of very high-quality images on the Internet tends to obscure a basic fact about photographic aesthetics: equipment does not, in and of itself, make for effective images, nor is the possession of expensive photographic equipment a necessary prerequisite for the creation of images of this type. Those of us who see ourselves as hobbyist photographers and aestheticians, but who can’t afford higher-end equipment, are often frustrated by our own failures to appreciate this fact. We find ourselves feeling inferior to those with higher-end equipment because we unconsciously absorb the belief that we are incapable of achieving excellent results due to the equipment we use.

I contend that this is not, in fact, the case. There are numerous aspects of image composition that contribute to the question of whether an image is worthwhile, effective, or aesthetically pleasing. In fact, many of the photographers who have defined photography as an artistic genre used cameras that were less technically capable than the one that I carry around in my backpack. Although the possibilities opened by expensive equipment can be very attractive, there are many possibilities for producing striking, powerful images with inexpensive equipment, without requiring that large sums of money be invested in equipment.

I myself am a poverty-ridden grad student and hobbyist photographer who carries a Kodak Easyshare C653 digicam everywhere I go. An inexpensive miniature tripod and a few sets of rechargeable AA batteries complete the equipment that I use to create my photographs. My entire photographic setup is worth less than $100. Though I’m sometimes frustrated by the limitations of my own equipment (inability to control depth of field is particularly frustrating), being a graduate student and teacher’s assistant precludes me from spending more money on my equipment, and I believe that focusing on what I can do with it gives me opportunities to produce some rather impressive work, which you can see in my own DeviantArt gallery.

I think that perusing my gallery will show (a) that there is a great deal of potential for cheap digicam-based photography, and (b) that my own competence with both photographing and postprocessing has grown greatly over the three-plus years since I’ve gone digital. I propose to use this blog space to share what I’ve learned with other photographers: in terms of technique, composition, postprocessing, and other related concerns. I intend to produce articles on software, camera technique, postprocessing, and more thoughts on photography.

Follow me, won’t you? And please share your thoughts. I would be grateful for the opportunity to interact with you on these matters.

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