Don't Tell Me 'It Doesn't Matter What Camera You Use' In Street Photography

Let's explore the myth that gear somehow doesn't matter in street photography.

I’ve read one too many interviews now with street photographers stating that it doesn’t matter what camera you use in your street photography.

And almost certainly, they’re relying on their Leicas, their Ricoh GRs, their Fujifilm whatevers, their iPhone X’s, their Canons, their Nikons, their Sonys, whatever their Camera of Choice, when they go out to shoot street photography.

It’s the most ridiculous statement that keeps getting regurgitated by seemingly everyone. Even I parroted this empty and stupid statement in the past when I didn’t know any better.

Allow me to demonstrate, by way of a challenge, why it’s a stupid and meaningless statement.

If the camera you use for street photography doesn’t matter, then sell your DSLR or mirrorless camera - all lenses and accessories - and only use your smartphone going forward. Or pick-up a Polaroid camera from Ebay. Which camera you use doesn't matter, right?

Naturally, it does matter what camera you use in street photography. Or in any genre.

Maybe you simply like the way one looks over another, how it feels in your hands? Maybe you like the fact it renders great quality images? Maybe you like the camera you have because it’s compact and fits in your pocket? Maybe you like the fact that Camera X was used by Y Legendary Street Photographer? Maybe you like the kick-ass auto focus system on a certain model? Maybe you’re a smart shopper and purchased a camera with specs based on price point alone? Maybe you use a certain camera because someone gifted it to you, or it was handed down to you from a friend or family member? Or maybe you’re an unapologetic gear whore and own EVERYTHING?

But don’t tell me that the camera you use in street photography doesn’t matter. Please. You really don’t believe this. Think about it for a moment.

Then go back to all the YouTube videos and re-read all the articles where street photographers are telling you that it doesn’t matter what camera you use. Then actually FIND OUT WHAT IT IS THEY DO USE. I guarantee you one thing.

There’s no such thing as a Doesn’t Matter model. Nobody owns one of these.

From another perspective

We never tell painters that their paints don’t matter, or their canvases or mediums don’t matter. We don’t tell guitarists that their guitars don’t matter. We don’t tell sculptors and potters that their tools and clay don’t matter.

In fact, there isn’t a feel-good Voice that exists in the art world that states that tools of the craft don’t matter. It’s only in street photography where this bullshit festers like a zit on a pig’s ass.

So don’t tell me it doesn’t matter what camera you use in street photography.

The only legitimate thing you could possible say without losing face is that you can learn street photography on just about any camera.

This is merely stating the obvious. It's clear to me that many photographers are letting their audience know that shooting street photography isn't camera-specific. And it isn't. But let's not kid ourselves into believing that gear doesn't matter in street photography. Let's at least try to communicate what we actually mean.

More importantly, let's not tell beginners that gear doesn't matter to simply make them "feel good" because maybe they can't afford a better camera starting out. There's no need to do this. Let's instead, talk about learning photography, learning about street photography, tips and tricks. Let there be an education, let there be light! The gear will come later.

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