« that camera must take nice photos »
when a camera plus lens looks to have some heft, or just be big, then it seems to solicit this unasked assessment of what it can do. the retort may be along the lines of « I quite enjoyed your meal, and the oven makes very delicious dishes. »
despite all the snark, retort, and stares one can give to such a silly comment, there are instances where the retort should be « yes, it does, and it liberates me to take photos that you can't with it ». ouch. ok, save that for some rather unsavory characters.
for other people with a genuine interest in what is being photographed, at that moment or later, then perhaps this anecdote from Deborah Turbeville can make photographers think of another way to interpret the comment:
« She began taking photographs on her own in the 1960s, and in 1966, having had no previous instruction, enrolled in a six-month workshop taught by the photographer Richard Avedon and the art director Marvin Israel.
“If it hadn’t been for the two of them, I wouldn’t have taken my photography seriously,” Ms. Turbeville told The Times Magazine in 1981. “It was so out of focus and terrible. The first evening in class, they held up pictures. They said, ‘It isn’t important to have technique, but you must have an idea or inspiration, and we feel the only one who has is this person who’s never taken a photograph before.’ I became very unpopular in the class.” »
— New York Times, Obituary [ link ]
this anecdote clearly highlights something that was true before the democratization of photography in the last decade: the rarity of the photographer.
while digital cameras, and relevant software, have further democratized the ability to take competent photographs under most normal conditions by a greater number of people, the talent of a photographer is a gift that has not changed because of any advancements in technology. technology does not change the percentage of people that has a given talent/gift, and that is a simple fact that seems to be trivialized/forgotten about photography — along with so many other trivializations of photography, in contrast to other art forms.
what has changed is that such a talented photographer can, at an earlier stage, realize their potential, and when confronted with the the puzzling statement, give a very sensible answer that highlights a talent:
« yes, it takes wonderful photos, and with great effort by me,
and it can take a wonderful photo of an idea. »
and this was the case for Deborah Turbeville.
she took photos such as...
and, other styles now rather more commonly found than at their time of their publications. her approach to stressing the photograph's negative is now much more readily done with software.