I love photography because it is the most democratic art form that exists.

I. We are all photographers

The worst thing that people say is that “everyone thinks they are a photographer”. But I think everyone is already a photographer.

Anybody and everybody can make a piece of art with their smartphone camera. even if your camera is a shitty smartphone.

II. What if I have a shitty camera?

If you have a shitty camera or smartphone, just shoot black and white (high contrast).

If you live in a boring city, town, or have a boring life— make the most interesting boring photos you can.

III. Why do we want to buy more expensive cameras?

The reason we are suckered into wanting to buy bigger cameras with more megapixels is multi-fold.

1. We have low self-esteem

Some of us want to buy a bigger camera because we have low self-esteem. We think that buying a better more expensive camera will get us more respect. I know this happened to me.

When I had a Rebel XT 350D, I felt like the shit. I had a DSLR (2007) when DSLR’s were still very rare. At UCLA as an undergrad, I got special access into events because I had a ‘pro’ camera.

As time went on, I wanted to make my camera bigger. I bought a battery grip, and a Canon 70-200 f/4 L lens — the white lens made me feel pro.

But this was all bullshit. I thought that by buying this expensive camera and add-ons; I was able to ‘look’ more ‘pro’ in the eyes of others. But that was because I cared too much about what others thought of me.

This is kind of why guys who have masculinity problems buy a sports car, or why women who want to feel more feminine buy a Hermes bag. We want to out-source our ego, by the shit we buy.

2. We genuinely think it will make us better

Another reason — we think that buying a new camera will make us more inspired, and more creative. We think our gear is holding us back.

I know for myself, I wanted to be taken ‘more seriously’ and I wanted to shoot at ISO 1600. So I ‘upgraded’ my Canon Rebel XT 350D to a Canon 5D (full frame, original). I thought, ‘Now that I have a full frame camera, I am a real and legit photographer.’ But then, the dick-measuring contest never stopped. I needed the ‘holy trinity’ of Canon L lenses (the 17-40L, the 24-70L, the 70-200L f/2.8). I felt like shit, because no way in hell could I afford that. And all the time I wasted looking at sharpness tests of brick walls was time I could have gone out and made photos with personal meaning.

3. Don’t trust photography bloggers or websites

The industry is setup so we photography bloggers and websites want you to buy shit. Because if you buy a camera or product with my BH or Amazon Affiliate link — we get a 1-3% commission. So if we sell you a $1,000 camera or lens, we can earn $20. Sure that doesn’t sound like much — but our aspiration is to get 100 people to buy that $1,000 camera. Therefore, we can make $2,000 off our camera gear review (good money).

My rule of thumb: never trust a camera review that has an affiliate link in it.

You know if it has an affiliate link if you copy the URL and it has all these weird things that look like this link I have to the Ricoh GR II camera on Amazon:

The way to read this: you see that ‘TAG=ERICKIMSTRPHO’? That part indicates that is my link to Amazon. So if you end up buying that camera or diapers, I still get my 1-2% kick-back. And of course, it is in my selfish interest to get you to buy a lot of stuff, so I can make more money, and with more money, I can finally save up to buy that blacked-out Lamborghini Huracan. This is how Ken Rockwell drives a Porsche sports car.


Honestly, I think the best digital camera (in 2017) is the Ricoh GR II camera. It fits in your front pocket, has image quality of a DSLR, and has an integrated flash. Also the design is fantastic, easy to use, and very customizable.

But after the RICOH GR II (600 USD) — the iPhone is the best camera for 99.99% of the world. The iPhone camera will keep getting better, and the best reason that the iPhone camera is the best camera is that they spend billions of dollars on image processing (so not just how many megapixels the camera phone has, but how the computer inside the iPhone processes the image— to make the colors look nicer). And the iPhone is the most popular camera in the world— and will even get more popular as time goes on.

V. My personal regrets with GAS (Gear acquisition syndrome)

A lot of photographers (with low self-esteem) try to enhance their penis size with getting bigger cameras, with more megapixels, with longer lenses.

Honestly, the sad truth is that a lot of photography is driven by male testosterone. Most women I know really don’t care about what camera they shoot with — and end up making fewer excuses, and making better photos.

I know personally, I have wasted so much fucking time in my life reading camera reviews, and wasting time on camera forums. If you calculate my old job ($20 an hour), and let’s say I wasted 100 hours reviewing cameras (or on camera rumor sites), I’ve spent (at least $2,000) in terms of my time and labor just looking at cameras and shit. If you really want to buy a new camera, just go to the camera store, try it out, or order it on Amazon or BHPHOTO and return it after 30 days if you don’t like it (instead of reading other people’s reviews, who are self-interested).

Think about it — if a photo blogger or website reviews a camera and has an affiliate link — is it really in their best interest to say anything really bad about the camera? Obviously (consciously or subconsciously) you will downplay the downsides, and up-play the benefits.

At least that is what I do.

VI. Go out and make art.

So friend, the purpose of this is to just not give a fuck about what camera you shoot with. Just use your shitty smartphone, or your iPhone, or the camera you already own. If you want a good camera with good image quality, get the 600 USD Ricoh GR II camera.

And the purpose of being a photographer is to find more personal meaning in your photography and art. To make meaning in your photos, not images. And to remember, photography is just applied philosophy.


Be strong,

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