I shared some Facts & FAQ’s about my trip to Cuba, but I thought I would write something separately for all the photography fans or anyone who is interested in knowing more about this aspect of my trip. If you’re not sure what trip I’m talking about, head here for the hub of all things related to Cuba 2014.
What gear are you shooting with? What kind of camera should I buy? What’s the best lens?
These are frequent questions and often a topic of conversation for photographers (there are loads of blogs and forums dedicated only to reviewing and discussing the best photographic technology). While I definitely don’t want to discredit the question, I want to acknowledge something a little deeper–a tug-of-war I have often felt with my photography and that one of my favorite photographers articulates so well:
“It’s as though photographers are afflicted with a chronic split personality. One personality is the Artist, the other the Geek. One is Vision, the other Craft…and in the middle where they meet is the art of photography—the expression of our unique vision through practiced technique. Great photography happens where craft and vision meet” (Within the Frame by David duChemin, p. 38).
So, gear and technical ability are important, but I don’t want to obsess about them. They are tools that I wield in order to express a deeper vision. If I’m solely focused on having the latest gear and creating technically perfect photographs, I risk saying nothing at all. I risk having beautiful, lifeless photographs.
On my trip to Cuba in 2004, I was filled with vision–a deep sense of awe and an emotional connection to the people and places. But my technical skill was insufficient to communicate all of what I was thinking and feeling. (Actually, it was pretty much non-existent–aside from a bit of knowledge about composition, I had no idea how my camera worked.) I’ve longed to return to Cuba since I’ve grown in my technical skills over the years (though of course have a long way to go!) not because I want to create prettier photographs, but because I hope these skills can help me tell a better story and communicate more deeply.
With that said, here is what I generally shoot with (though I haven’t decided for sure what I’ll be taking with me to Cuba):
- Canon EOS 7D (body)
- Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 (I also have the 50mm f/1.8 and still love the feel of it–it was my “first love” with prime lenses)
- Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
- Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro (definitely my favorite portrait and nature lens)
Here’s a little more I’ve written on the topic of photography:
- On asking a stranger in Guatemala if I could photograph him
- More thoughts on craft and vision–a book review of Within the Frame
I’d love to hear your thoughts (even if your craft is something other than photography, such as writing or speaking)! Can you relate to the struggle between perfecting your craft and expressing your vision?
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