Why It is Cooler Shooting With a Shittier Camera


Person A: “Nice photo! What did you shoot it on?”
Person B: “I shot it on a very expensive camera.”
Person A: “Oh yeah! I can totally see the color rendition, sharpness, corner sharpness, and the bokeh!”
Person B: “Haha just kidding. I shot it on my phone.”

I had a mini epiphany:

It is cooler to make good photos on a shitty or older or cheaper camera.

Why? It is a way to peacock and show off… “I can make good photos on a crappy camera.”

For example, I have MORE pride and feel MORE COOL that even though I make a lot of money, I CHOOSE to life a more minimalist lifestyle. I have pride in wearing the same (expensive) outfit everyday. I have pride that I am writing these words on an old iPad Air, that I shoot with a $600 digital RICOH GR II camera, that I don’t have a phone, that I don’t have a car, that I don’t have an Instagram, that I prefer to share meals with Cindy, and that I live BELOW my means.

For example, let’s say that I made a very good photo on a $10,000 camera. People would say that it’s not very impressive, because I used an expensive camera. But if I make a good photo on a cheap camera, folks are MORE impressed.

Another example, I’m more impressed with the billionaire who drives an old Toyota Camry, than the multi millionaire who drives a Ferrari.

Other examples,

I’m more impressed with the rich person who thrifts for clothes, than the rich person who buys expensive purses, bags, or designer clothes.

I’m more impressed with the photographer who shoots with a cheaper, more basic camera, or even her phone…compared with the rich photographer with all the new fancy camera stuff.

Funny thing,

People will always be more impressed with photos shot on film, when compared to digital photos.


Film is more exotic. More pure. More old school. More mysterious and confusing.

My tip,

In today’s world if you want to stand out, shoot film, NOT with your phone or a high-end digital camera.

Several benefits of film:

  1. Film cameras are cheap. Don’t start with film Leica. Shoot with an old, preferably free film camera. All film cameras are “full frame.”
  2. Start with cheap film and buy FILM NOTES.
  3. Film will always look aesthetically nicer than digital photos. Why? The randomness of light hitting the film, results nicer aesthetics. Digital photos and processing and presets always try to EMULATE the look of film. Why not bypass the hassle… and just shoot film from the get go?
  4. Film is timeless: I still look at my film photos and they have held up well. Digital, not so much. The digital photos…the aesthetic keeps changing based on different digital sensors, and the presets I make.
  5. Kodak Portra 400 for color and Kodak Trix 400 for monochrome are timeless.

Practical insights

Ok, this essay is all over the place. Let me simplify:

  1. Don’t buy expensive cameras to show off. Better to show off by making good photos on a crappier camera.
  2. Don’t feel pressured to always upgrade your camera. Digital cameras get outdated like phones… every 6 months or 1 year.
  3. To get off the crazy digital camera, upgrade treadmill try shooting film.

Ultimately it don’t matter what you shoot with.

Timeless human biases

Other ideas:

  1. Unfortunately, human beings will generally care about how you made a photo, and what equipment you use. This will never change.
  2. If you can impress people with photos you shoot on a phone, you’re cool. But you will have a hard time charging a lot of money shooting commercial photos on a phone. Unfortunately the mental shortcut: “Bigger camera, means the photographer is more professional, and therefore is worth more money, and will make better photos.” Therefore for professional work, big professional cameras will always exist. Humans do believe “Bigger is better” (think of people wanting to buy an iPhone plus, SUV cars, or big homes).
  3. We will never be satisfied with the camera, equipment, or gadgets we buy… no matter how new or innovative. Solution: Revel and be proud that you use older, shittier, outdated equipment…and make the best use of it.



GAS: (Gear Acquisition Syndrome): wanting to buy new cameras, because you feel like your photos aren’t good enough, because your camera isn’t good enough: