I just got back from a family vacation to the beach. As with any event involving babies, there were a LOT of pictures taken.

My wife and I have a decent little point-and-shoot camera. I think it’s called a DSLR. You can’t change out lenses or anything, but it’s got a lot of the features of the nicer, more expensive cameras.

My sister-in-law, however, has a nice SLR camera. On top of that, she recently bought a really nice $500 lens for it.

Our camera takes nice pictures.

Her camera takes GREAT pictures.

Okay, Joe, this is a recording blog…where are you going with this?

We can all appreciate a good photograph. It doesn’t take a lot of “eye training” to be able to see the beauty of a good picture.

Want better pictures? Get a better camera.

When I look at pictures from my camera, they look okay, but my sister-in-law’s pictures are noticeably better. It would be silly for me to buy Photoshop and work for hours trying to get my photos to look like hers. That’s just silly, right?

Isn’t that what we do with audio? We convince ourselves that that a new piece of software will fix our crappy recordings? I talked about this the other day. (See Unhappy with Your Mixes?)

Photoshop Is Not Magic

…and neither is Pro Tools…or that Waves bundle. If I take crappy pictures, Photoshop won’t make them awesome.

In the same way, if I record sub-par, bad-sounding audio, I’m a fool to think I can fix it later with fancy software.

Is my sister-in-law a better photographer than I am? Absolutely. She knows all those camera features that I know nothing about. So is it possible that I can get the same results with my camera if I put in more effort to work on my technique?

Sure.

But is it also possible that her camera is simply superior and will always take better pictures? Yep.

Don’t underestimate skill, practice, knowing your craft. But also don’t assume that cheap equipment will be just as good as its higher-end counterpart.

The Environment Matters

I mentioned this a couple months ago in an article where I pointed you to Ronan’s Recording Show, where he made the excellent point that a big part of what makes a video/photograph good is the source and the lighting.

Surroundings matter, whether you’re taking photographs or recording a vocalist. Good equipment is certainly necessary. A good room is JUST as necessary.

What do you think? Have you ever thought about audio in terms of photography?