“I just bought a Canon EOS 5D MKIV.”
“I just spent $4000 on a camera.”
“I just bought the latest, top of the line camera”
We hear it all the time and see it all the time in forums, Facebook, Instagram. We hear it from friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances whenever they decide to learn a new skill like Photography, and invest in thousands of dollars worth of equipment because they think it’s necessary to have that ‘perfect’ gear.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I started making Youtube videos a while back. After making about a hundred videos, I stopped. I stopped because I need time to think about what I’m doing, how to shoot, and how to tell stories in a way that’s uniquely mine because what I had been doing before wasn’t working; my channel didn’t grow.
Shooting videos and achieving success from it is not as easy as what some people might think: record a bit of this, bit of that, upload it to Youtube and sit back and watch as the views roll in. It’s not easy at all.
The kind of video content that worked back then, maybe three, five years ago no longer works now. Today’s audience have already seen it all — whatever you’re uploading is at best, a form of initiation of something else that already exists. To pioneer a new genre of filmmaking, to create a new style that’s entirely original is easier said than done. Most people will never achieve that kind of originality especially as ideas and concepts become increasingly saturated year over year. What we need to do is be able to take what already exists, a combination of it, and further combine it into a style that’s uniquely ours. We’re following the same genre, telling the same story, but in our voice.
And to tell a story, you need character, personality, individuality — not top of the line equipment. The equipment is only as good as the person using it; if you don’t know how to use it, if you can’t use utilize its full capabilities, there’s no point in having invested in such an expensive piece of equipment. An amateur who uses the top of the line DSLR camera will still be beat by a professional photographer who uses an iPhone to shoot, just like how an amateur basketball player with the most expensive basketball will still lose to a NBA player with a worn-out ball.
The idea behind telling a story is how you frame it, how you capture the viewer’s attention and the emotions you invoke. That’s the whole concept of filmmaking — to tell a story.
Think about the last time you took photos when you were on vacation. Were you taking photos for the sake of taking them, or were you trying to record that very moment in history so you could show friends and family, to tell them the story of your vacation through photographs? You’re not just taking photos, you’re taking the very best moments, the highlights of that vacation because that’s the story you want to tell.
Better equipment help tell a story better, convey feelings more clearly, but it doesn’t tell the story itself. What tells the story is you — you determine what to shoot and what to film; you decide on what that story will look like. Your equipment will only be as good as your ability to tell that story.
“The gear never matters. Tell a great story really well, and people will forgive whatever gear you shoot it on.” — Casey Neistat
Focus on the story, and the equipment will follow. Focus on the equipment and you’ll never have a story.