For a child, one of their most important identity statements is specifying their favorite color. I was never able to pick just one, I loved them all. That has never changed. To this day, I find myself absolutely infatuated with color. Bright, bold, honest color. The more intrusive and obvious the color, the more I like it.

the cameras Fujifilm

When I make photos of regular subjects, I push the colors in unnatural directions. I do this to emphasize mood, feeling, presence. "Natural" color may be accurate by the reckoning of color science, but it makes for a pale mockery of reality.

the cameras Minolta

The origins of photography lie in distorting color – a black-and-white-and-gray rendering of a scene is no more a document of 'the way things were' than the intense distortion of shooting a color photo through a filter which removes blue from the spectrum.

the Bronica ETR-S

On the street, I seek out color and light, using filters and film stocks to push my results. In the studio, though, light and color are mine to control. My earliest attempts at flash photography involved gray cards and color checkers and concern over the exact temperature of the lights. I was following the rules, sticking to the training.

the Fujica Half

The results were boring. The lighting was balanced, a flat white expanse of nothingness. The photos reflected this, and were uninteresting in the extreme.

the coterie of Pentax 645 gear

So I came back to my gear, and went bonkers with the color gels. Reds. Purples. Pinks. Chartreuses. Mauves. Burgundies. Taupes. Ultramarines. I love seeing these colors blend and mix and reflect and spill across the subject and cast their wayward shadows.

the Nikon F80

And cameras in particular, as a subject – they're shiny and detailed, but rarely colorful. A perfect opportunity to add a shock of color. I started small, subtle. But the more intense I made the colors, the more I liked the shots. The more the images felt right.

the Contax S2 and lenses

But that assumption, what about the cameras made them interesting enough to warrant becomes photographic subjects themselves? There's a saying in photography, 'it's not about the camera'. I've learned that, like most advice, this statement is wrong. It's not only about the camera, but it is about the camera.

the Hasselblad 500C

Each camera is designed, tautologically, to take photos, but the vagaries of each camera's design arrive with their own ethos. There's nuance to a camera's function, and that nuance, however slight, makes all the difference.

A lens shifted

I have used, to varying extent, each of the cameras on this page. None are mere showpieces, something I laid my hands on only to have sit and gather dust on a shelf.

the Fujifilm X-Pro3

Some were expensive, difficult to find, infamous in their fragility. Others were common, banal, wouldn't turn the head of the most eager gear-ophile.

the banal Canon Rebel SL1

But they are all cameras, they are all capable of recording light into an image. When I've found (or created) an interesting scene, does it matter which of these cameras I used to create the photo? Or would the photo be the same no matter which camera I used?

the Lomography Sprocket Rocket

I say, the camera absolutely matters. The same scene, captured by me, using each of these cameras in turn would create a variety of results. Some more different than others, yes, but the distinctions would be there. The characteristic of the camera, imprinted upon the image.

the Contax S2

The diversity would stem from the basic configuration of the camera, from the technology and its limits, from the ways each of the cameras compels me to frame the shot and interact with my subject.

my beloved Pentax 645NII

Film versus digital, the peculiarities of the digital sensor, aspect ratios, lens technologies, light metering implications, clumsiness or sleekness of operation, obtrusiveness of design – all these and more play into how the camera creates photos, how the camera interfaces between photographer and subject.

the Canon EOS 3

So let's shuck off the naysayers and armchair pontificators telling us that our cameras don't matter. Instead, we shall rejoice in the hardware. Celebrate the gear. Give respect where respect is due. Each of these machines, beautiful or beastly, gorgeous or grotesque, was carefully designed by engineers to appeal to photographers.

the Kodak Printomatic – it makes stickers!

And how does a camera appeal to photographers, exactly? By doing something better than the cameras that came before it. By offering the photographer some new perspective, some new capability. By working with us to expand our skillset in creating images previously unavailable to us.

the Fujifilm GFX 50R

And so we honor their creations in the way we best know how: with photography. By being used to create photos.

the Yashica Electro

I've lately seen cameras paraded as lifestyle accessories, as something that people hold on to more to create a self-image than to create a photographic image. Am I doing that here, myself? Am I, by associating myself with all this gear, attempting to convey that I am "with it" and "cool"?

the Sigma DP2x

Maybe I am, subconsciously. Though I'd like to believe otherwise. I know that I am neither with it nor cool. I really love photography, and I celebrate the gear for its own sake, not for benefit to myself. And I doubt the ability of some of these particularly hideous cameras to make anyone carrying them look at all "cool."

unrelated photo of the Fujifilm GA645Zi, which feels like operating a dental x-ray machine

So I share with you my love of gear, unabashed and unapologetic. When I acquire a new camera, I use it. I make photos, hundreds of them. But I also give it a spot underneath my flashes, subject it to a little adoration, some friendly ogling. Come celebrate with me.

the Bronica RF645