This topic often comes up when I'm talking to amateurs
or beginning pros. I does get my hackles up when anyone
says "gee if I had your gear/funding I'd make better/great
photos". Ok, let’s face it: all three Talent, gear and
money are important, But one is singularly critical to
getting good images. Talent enables you to find, think up
and control the intended image, so that you can produce what
you or your client wants. Gear enables you to provide a
certain look or produce the image in difficult conditions,
such as underwater. Money enables you to control the fine
external details, like renting the helicopter, model or
going to an exotic location for the assignment.
HOWEVER! There have been so many great images made:
1) By total beginners who were just lucky. Some Pulitzer
Prize winners were rank amateurs with little more than point
2) Made with the most minimal of gear. David Allan Harvey
and William Allard, long time National Geographic
photographers, usually do the bulk if not all of their stories
with a single body and 35mm lens. Ansel Adams didn't need
more that about 3 lenses in his entire career.
3) With no money. There are wonderful images to be made
without spending a penny. If you determine that the only
way to photograph is with expensive models in an exotic
locale while you are photographing them from a blimp with
the most expensive equipment possible, then fine, but that
doesn't necessarily mean that it will be any better of an
image than doing the shoot at the local location.
What all three have in common is: They give you choices.
Money gives you access to things to make the job easier
and potentially more interesting circumstances. Gear gives
you more options as to how the photograph could look.
Talent enables you, however, to recognize a good image and
be able to use your gear and money to your advantage to the
end of not even needing super gear and tons of money to make
Talent is really everything when it comes to being a long
time professional. If you have talent, you can produce the
goods where ever and how ever. If you can't find and make
interesting images armed with only a manual body, no motor
drive, a 50 mm lens, manual flash and slide film, then all
the money and fancy gear will, at best, only marginally
decrease your ability to make good images. Without talent,
you are working on luck and that doesn't happen all that
Bottom line: A talented photographer can go anywhere at any
time armed with only a beat up old FM2 and 50mm lens, or any
other camera you consider outdated/cheap/low quality and
consistently make good solid pictures. Without talent, but
with a case of the best gear and loads of money, when you
press the shutter release, you will keep saying the seven
deadly words of photography: "Gee, I hope that one comes out!"