What paint did Leonardo da Vinci use?

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you should either be starting to understand why you need unique, professionally-taken photos to market your business effectively, or regardless of the advice I give, you’ll blunder on using stock images or ones taken by Anne in accounts who got a rather nice camera for her birthday and after all it’s the camera that takes the pictures, isn’t it?

It is true that modern digital cameras, be they compact or SLR (big chunky ones with interchangeable lenses in case you’re wondering) are capable of stunning results. This has led to a problem for professional photographers who must now compete with the false perception that anything is possible with digital photography.

On the plus side for pro’s though is that while there are a lot of excellent amateurs out there, there doesn’t appear to be a greater number of good photographers than before digital existed, and the only reason amateurs make any dent at all in the professional market is through the sheer number of pictures they take. If you can’t be good, be prolific seems to be the mantra.

Look at it this way: given the number of hobby photographers there are, the amount of time they can spend on shooting any random subject they like and the lack of restraints such as who they’re shooting for, what the brief is or even the necessity to make money from their work, the “infinite monkey” principle has to kick in at some point. This is the theory that if an infinite number of monkeys were each given a typewriter and enough time, eventually they would turn out the complete works of Shakespeare.

baby gorilla

Gorillas aren't monkeys, and they're rubbish at typing.

Of course hobby photographers don’t need to turn out anything as specific as a previously created work, or even follow a brief, plus they have more sophisticated brains than monkeys (biting my lip not to say something here…) so beyond opposable thumbs, the monkey gets left behind by the amateur.

However, my point is this. Often when I’m on assignment I get asked which camera I use (never which lens, curiously enough) and how many megapixels it has. Some people even like to tell me that if they had a camera like mine they too could take great pictures. I kid you not, a web designer said this to my face once and still I managed not to use violent force to integrate my camera with her smug face.

In fact I’m always polite in my answer, but the truth is I know I have a Canon 5D but I can’t remember, nor do I care, how many megapixels it has. I don’t care because it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that my clients can ask me to arrive on an agreed date, at an agreed time to cover a specific job for a specific purpose and deliver great pictures as they expect. I’m not shooting randomly in the hope I get a picture worth showing someone.

So when asked about what kit I use, I’m often tempted to ponder in return what paint Leonardo da Vinci used for chapel ceilings and the like, because surely if I had the same paint I could save The Vatican a bundle on restoration works. Now if I can just train these monkeys to hold a brush…

Article and photos © Tim Gander. All rights reserved 2009

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