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There’s only one thing you really need to be creative as a photographer; imagination and the commitment to hard work. While magazines and camera manufacturers may disagree, I think most experienced photographers will agree that tools don’t inspire creativity, imagination and curiosity does. Human history has produced great art regardless of the tools available, from cave paintings to fantastic pinhole photographs. None have let the limitations of their tools inhibit their inspiration to share something worthwhile, or work hard at developing their vision.

How do I know this? Because I’ve fallen into the same trap as nearly everyone else in believing I needed just one more “_______.” But over time what I realized was that my inspiration came not from my tools, but my state of mind, my emotional connection to the subject, my feelings, and my purpose. And showing up every day to do the hard work.

If you’re searching for inspiration, for motivation to get out and shoot, live life more fully. Laugh, cry, find something to get the hairs on your neck to stand up. Visit your local museum and get real inspiration. Explore your feelings and share them with everyone else. Consider why you do what you do. Stop thinking about the next camera, the next software, the next new technique that might suddenly make you creative. That comes from a totally different place.

Consider Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Picasso, Cartier-Bresson, Porter, Rowell, or those making incredible images with older iPhones. How primitive their tools must seem to us now.

Am I saying not to buy new gear, or enjoy the marvels of technology. No. What I am saying is that it’s the imagination and work that really matters, that actually makes the meaningful difference, nothing else.

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