A Brief Commentary on Photography, and Art vs. Craft

Recently, someone tried to compliment one of my photos by telling me, "You have a really clear camera!"  This simple statement contains an idea that surely irks any reasonable photographer: the linking of gear and skill.  In response, I formulated the following three categories, which I will use to sort photographers and their work until I find a better way.

1. Ownership of a camera
If the flash doesn't go off, people in this group may get confused and have to check "if the picture took."  Their response to a particularly striking image is an inquiry either on the cost of the camera or what software was used.

2. Understanding how the camera works
A lot of people like photography; it is a common hobby.  Most people who buy an SLR eventually get to the point where they know what's going on.  They might have just a fuzzy understanding of how changing settings will affect the image, or they might enjoy complete mastery over every technical aspect of the camera.  Either way, they usually fall short of--

3. Telling stories.
Any narrative can be stuffed into the famous thousand words a picture is worth.  But so many of these accounts are worthless: "Here is a tree with moss on it."  "We drove to Idaho."  A great photograph, that is art rather than just craft, tells a great story.

Most of us, most of the time, sleep in that second camp.  Actually, sometimes feel like I've never been outside of it.  But here's to the pursuit!