The Wand Doesn't Make The Magic

November 24th, 2010 by Theodore Stark

When was the last time you went to a magic show? For some, it may have been last weekend. Others, it may have been a bit longer. Besides the rabbit coming out of the hat, the most identifying of items used by a magician is his wand.

So let me ask you… do you think the quality of the magic show is based on the manufacturer and model of the wand?

Me neither.

This is not a new argument. Nevertheless, it is one that needs to surface from time-to-time, as we seem to lose sight of what’s important.

Go to any photography forum, club, or group and I bet one of the most popular (if not the most popular) topics is  "what is the best camera". 

Yes, we all are very excited about our cameras (some even border on fanatical). There are times we are amazed our camera will allow us to make photographs in certain conditions. We all want to share our experiences. I get that.

Yet still, it simply does not change the fact that the camera does not make the photograph. You do. Your camera may be sweet in low light. It may snap an exceptional number of frames per second. It may do HD video. You, the photographer, still push the button to make it all happen.

What makes a good magician a great magician is the attention to the artistry and execution of the act. Same is true for photographers. A novice photographer becomes a good photographer by attending workshops, going to expos, and carefully studying the work of others. Notice I did not once mention the wand, or the camera? I’m sneaky like that…

Michael Jordan did not become great based on his shoes (much to Nike’s chagrin), Shakespeare did not become a literary icon because of the quills he wrote with, and Jimmy Hendricks did not ascend to rock legend status because of the brand or model of guitar he used (especially with his propensity to set them on fire). The same can be said for Ansel Adams.

Just like the magician, we become better photographers by striving to learn more about our craft and honing our skills. The camera is nothing more than tools to help you (yes you) make the photograph.

Just remember… without the magician, you have no show. Without the wand, the magician still pulls the rabbit out of the hat.

Go and chase the light.


Check out Ted's work on his website, and follow him on Twitter.



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