This question was posed to me when we visited the Indianapolis Children’s Museum this past March. As a quick aside, if you ever have a chance to take your kids there, DO IT! Ok, now that’s out of the way, back to the post!
Here’s the setup – my 3 year old was playing with the river simulator. Over my shoulder was my D600 with a 24-70 lens and an SB700 flash. Definitely not a small set up. In my hand, however, was my S7 taking a quick pic of her having a good time. A mom stopped me, looking extremely puzzled, herself carrying a smaller DSLR. She asked why in the world I was using my camera on my phone when I had pro-level gear with me. I gave her the obvious answer – I was posting a check-in on Facebook!
It doesn’t matter what one does, but having the right tool for the job is important. What is even more essential is knowing which tool to use for which job. I live in North Texas, and it’s not uncommon for people to own a fun-to-drive vehicle and a pickup. The sports car or motorcycle definitely has its uses, but I wouldn’t want to be in/on one during a spring thunderstorm or when hauling supplies from the hardware store. Both get you from point A to B, but they go about it in very different ways.
The same is true for photography equipment. Ken Rockwell writes all over his page about why an iPhone or a good point and shoot is way more practical than a fancy, interchangeable lens camera. Depending on the application, I will sometimes rely solely on my Samsung Galaxy or Olympus TG-4. Other times, including difficult light or where image quality and control really matter, I bring out the big guns. Natural light is often a great solution; however, strobes and speedlights have their place.
For me, this gets back to the fundamentals. Throw the gear out the window for a minute, and think about the purpose. What story are you trying to tell? How do you best want to tell it? Once you understand that, then grab the right tool. How do you know what the right tool is? For that, you just need to get out there and shoot!