The Most Powerful Tool in a Photographer’s Toolbox

by | Photography Quotes, Photography Inspiration | 6 comments

Photography Quotes

Every month I share a photography quote and my thoughts and feelings about the quote. Good photography quotes surface an idea in a few well-chosen words. I love the fact that some people are so skilled with words.

A photo quote can confirm what you already know to be true. Or it can clarify what you’re not sure about. It can also be the starting point of a thought process. That’s what I like the most about photography quotes. When they get your brain working and become an inspiration to stretch yourself.

I choose the quote for this month because it’s a belief that is infused in my photographic blood. Because of that, it’s the basis of everything I share and teach at the Photography Playground.

“A camera didn’t make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel.”

– Peter Adams, portrait – and reportage photographer.

The Roof On My Wardrobe

Years ago I lived in a house with an attic and our bedroom boasted these small swivel windows. Every morning I would wake up to a natural phenomenon. Because a little light would fall into the dark bedroom through a crack in the slightly open window. Across from that small window was a grand wardrobe, and on its surface, something extraordinary unfolded.

An inverted image adorned the wardrobe – a projection of the orange-colored roofs from the houses on our street.

Yes, I was waking up in my very own camera obscura!

Can you imagine the wonder of witnessing such a natural phenomenon each day as I opened my eyes? This captivating experience forever transformed my relationship with photography.

You see, we humans like to think that we invented photography.

But truth be told, it has been there since the beginning of time. We’ve uncovered ways of capturing and preserving the images.

The images, the visions –  they exist independently of us. They will be there whether we hold on to them or not. Whether we’re there to witness them or not.

It is pure magic and that is a humbling realization.

photography quotes, photo quote, Peter Adams quote | Photo: The Roof on My Wardrobe ©Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground

About the Roof on my Wardrobe.

What you see here is the foundation of photography. Somehow the light falling through the crack of the window is projecting the outside world of the street in the inside world of my bedroom.

You can see the wooden panels of my wardrobe. When you look closely you can see my white bathrobe hanging on the left side of the wardrobe.

But the most interesting aspects of this picture are the orange roofing tiles of the houses opposite our house and the chimney stretching itself into the blue and white of the sky.

This is as I saw it and how I recorded it with my camera. I did not photoshop this picture.

The Camera Doesn’t Care

The way the camera preserves the image has gone through many changes. By now, the quality of cameras and lenses is far beyond what the inventors of photography could ever have imagined.

But ultimately, a camera is nothing more than a machine like a typewriter is.

The camera doesn’t care what it captures.

It doesn’t distinguish between what’s important and what’s not.

Cameras don’t recognize beauty.

They can’t see when the perfect moment is approaching.

Nor will they get excited when a beam of light is falling through the trees.

The camera simply records whatever is in front of her with obsessive precision and perfection. It’s an indiscriminating device.

photography quotes, photo quote, Peter Adams quote | Photo: Florence, Italy ©Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground

The True Magic

So, if it’s not the camera that makes a great picture, then what is?

You know what? The true magic lies within you!

The most vital tool in your photography toolbox is not the camera, but what lies between your ears – your incredible brain, your keen eyes, your passionate heart, and your beautiful soul. 

Embrace these elements, and you’ll become a photographer with a unique voice and vision.

photography quotes

Language of Photography

Sure, the camera is essential in translating your vision into an image. It’s your trusty sidekick in this visual journey.

However, to create something truly extraordinary, you need to master the language of photography.

Just like a great writer needs to grasp the nuances of language to craft a mesmerizing novel, you too must understand the visual language to tell a compelling visual story.

When you can grasp the language of photography you’ll be able to shoot with intent and develop your voice.

Shooting with intent is the secret sauce that elevates your photos from good to extraordinary. 

And composition is one of your biggest helpers in achieving that! Find out more: 4 Essential Principles of Composition in Photography

photography quotes, photo quote, Peter Adams quote | Photo: Florence, Italy ©Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground

Shoot with Intent

This is true for every form of photography but especially for travel photography. Because we’re not always able to bring the equipment we think we need to make a great photo. Then we need to rely solely on our vision.

We’re challenged to improvise and experiment. As a result, we’ll step out of our comfort zone and that’s when we sharpen our intent and vision.

Take these wonderful photos I shot at two of the most touristy places in bustling Florence during the summer – the Duomo of Florence and the Uffizi Gallery. You’d think such a tourist hotspot would produce generic images, right?

But, you see, my intent was different. I wanted to capture moments of stillness amidst the chaos, highlighting individuality amidst the masses.

Each photo is a reflection of my perspective, my experiences, and my essence as a human being – something only I can bring to the table.

I could have told any number of stories. But I choose this one.

So, study the language of photography instead of spending a fortune on gear.

Focus on nurturing your intent and developing your own distinct voice in photography. Understand that every click of the shutter is an expression of yourself, making your photos truly unique and outstanding.

photography quotes, photo quote, Peter Adams quote | Photo: Florence, Italy ©Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground

You can find more information about Peter Adams on his website www.peteradamsphoto.com

You can follow him on Instagram @peteradamsphoto

You can join our Instagram family @photography_playground

Hi, I’m Karin

Your Photography Mentor

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I feel you and I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way. Join Photography Playground now for overwhelm-free training and creative empowerment!

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“Your approach to photography inspires me and is wonderful to read. In contrast to all those websites and books about technology and gear, your approach opens a completely different door for me. Instead of reasoning, it triggers my imagination.”

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“Great examples were given to illustrate what we would try to capture via the prompts.  Most of all Karin and the other students were very supportive – a no-judgment zone.”

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6 Comments

  1. thanh

    Hi Karin,
    Your thought is very special. I try to learn more from you. Your sky is very immense.

    Reply
    • Karin van Mierlo

      Thank you 🙂

      Reply
  2. Walter F Riley

    SO BEAUTIFUL WRITTEN.

    Reply
    • Karin van Mierlo

      Thank you 🙂

      Reply
  3. Annette

    Hi Karin,
    I love your philosophy. It is the artist, not the camera that designs an amazing image.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Karin van Mierlo

      Glad you like it 🙂

      Reply

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