Strobist and one of the questions in it is the title of this post. For me the answer isn’t all that simple. Early on I knew that I didn’t want to paint myself into a corner by using a lot of gear. Tripods and focusing rails are slow, and really limit what you can and can’t photograph. I had actually given up on using tripods back when I use to shoot landscapes, because I realized that all a tripod was really doing was forcing me to slow down and evaluate a scene before I set it up –cause there’s just no sense in taking the time to put the camera on one if there isn’t a decent shot to take. So I simply got into the habit of pausing for a moment, evaluate the scene and my surroundings, and then decide if I’m there’s a photo to take and how I’m going to take it. I do the same thing today, often passing on opportunities to take images that I know I won’t keep.
It’s a little tough to chase a honeybee with a tripod...
Keeping the gear to a minimum allows the subject to dictate how I’m going to photograph it, instead of using a lot of equipment and restricting myself to only those subjects that conform to my gear. It can also be said that any serious discussion on hardware is kinda pointless, since my choice in camera equipment might be completely alien to you and counterproductive to your way of shooting. So there’s no right or wrong here, just differences in style.
The other thing I want to do with my photography is to change your perspective of the small world. I want you to see insects as more than “just bugs”. Shooting at their eye level allows you to connect with them, to see some personality. Whether or not you believe insects have a personality isn’t important, but my being able to project the impression of a personality in the way that I photograph them is.
So, what are you trying to accomplish?