Musings on Photography

You must have a great camera!

Posted in whimsy by Paul Butzi on April 29, 2007


It’s one of the things you’re guaranteed to hear when you start showing your work.  People see the work on the wall, and they turn to you and say “Your photos are awesome!  You must have a great camera”. They’re trying to be nice.  They’re trying to say something positive and encouraging, but they’ve stepped on the land mine.

By now, we’ve all heard the story about the photographer who was told this by the hostess at a dinner, and at the end of the dinner got his revenge by telling the hostess, “That dinner was delicious!  You must have wonderful pots and pans!”  The problem with this as a general tactic, though, is that you’re forced to wait until an opportunity for turnabout comes along.

Recently, I heard a comeback that’s along the same lines, but offers an immediate response.  (Sorry, I can’t remember where I heard/read this.)

When someone tells you “Your photographs are beautiful; you must have a really good camera!” you can reply “That’s a very flattering compliment.  You must have a really good mouth.”

6 Responses

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  1. Martin Doonan said, on April 29, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    I get the opposite (obviously, as I’ve never shown my photos) “you’ve got a great camera, you must take much better pictures”. Not really, I’m just bumbling along like them, I just spend more on my gear. The equivalent of buying great pots in the hope of making great meals.

  2. Doug said, on April 29, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    I don’t know if it’s the original source, but the comic strip “What the Duck” popularized it:

  3. chuck kimmerle said, on April 29, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    I dunno….seems a rather harmless comment, to me. Worse things have surely been said about me both to my face and behind my back.

    I’ve always wanted to use the pots ‘n pans line, but have never, in 20 years, had the chance. Maybe tomorrow….

  4. Mom said, on May 1, 2007 at 7:01 am

    You’re such a nice guy, you must have a great mother and father…..

  5. paul said, on May 1, 2007 at 10:20 am

    I hear this countless numbers of times when I’m walking around with my camera: Wow! That camera must make great pictures! I just smile and say: “Yep! It does sometimes!”. I know what they mean and it doesn’t bother me.

  6. Rosie Perera said, on May 3, 2007 at 6:52 am

    When I get that comment, I don’t seek revenge, I just simply explain the pots & pans analogy and enlighten the poor fools. They usually can laugh at their own foolishness and come away the wiser for it.

    I’ve had people ask me what camera I use, hinting that they might want to buy one so they could improve the quality of their photos. I suggest that they might want to work on their photography skills before spending that much money on a camera.

    It’s also worth pointing out that most wannabe painters today spend way more money on paint supplies in a year than van Gogh ever had available to spend in his whole brief artistic life. Does that make them great painters? Nope.

    It is true that a good photographer can make great photos on a crappy camera. On the other hand, sometimes spending good money for a good camera will make the process of making the art more enjoyable, so that one will end up spending more time doing it, and will thus improve in skills more quickly than might have happened otherwise with a cheapo camera. When art is a verb, the joy of using the tools is more important than the outcome.

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