Since I have enjoyed a successful career in photography and it consumes many of my waking hours, I often find myself viewing work and everyday life through the eyes of a photographer. For example: the current fixation on pixels – megapixels, that is – the standard of measure for digital photography.
I recently bought a new smart-phone, parting ways with my old one that lasted nearly three years, which is considered a fairly long life for a cell phone these days.
One of the selling points of my new phone is its 14-megapixel camera. Now someone is advertising a 41-megapixel camera. That sounds very impressive, but as a professional photographer I understand the error in confusing the number of pixels on the camera sensor with quality.
This misconception reminds me of the horsepower race of the 1960’s, when automakers tried to convince car buyers that cramming bigger and bigger engines into poorly manufactured cars made them better. The larger engines might have made more noise and felt more powerful, but overall the transportation provided was still unacceptable.
Digital photography became a serious threat to film photography the moment one-megapixel cameras became available. Since then the number of megapixels – which affect the sharpness and detail of a photographic image – has increased dramatically, and today even eight-megapixel professional cameras can produce amazing results when enlarged to very large sizes.
However, other factors also affect the quality of a photograph: the lens used and the electronics involved both have a far greater affect on image quality than the number of megapixels. Even more significant are the skill and experience of the photographer. Even with the best equipment, someone with a poor sense of photo composition or bad artistic judgment will not produce photos that capture our attention.
A similar principle applies to the workplace. Even if we obtain the most advanced technology available, if we fail to produce work with excellence, consistently miss promised deadlines, and treat customers and clients poorly, our business will struggle. That is why I have found principles from the Bible so meaningful. For instance, Proverbs 22:29 states that high quality work will not go unnoticed: “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve kings; he will not serve before obscure men.”
In another passage, Luke 6:31, Jesus reminds us the best way to treat those we do business with is to how we would want them to treat us: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” You can have the newest computers and technological tools, but if you struggle with customer service, it means little.
I tell people that to make great photographs, they should concentrate on learning what makes a good picture and developing their skills, rather than worrying about how many megapixels their cameras have. In the same way, the quality of the goods we produce and the services we provide means far more for business success than whether we can boast of having the most advanced technology.
Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and operates a school of photography. Jim is the author of High Performance Cameras for Ordinary People, a book on digital photography. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.
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1. How much does sophisticated technology tend to influence your purchasing decisions? Do you find yourself often attracted to the latest and greatest new innovations?
2. Do you agree with contention idea that in terms of succeeding in business, technological advances are no match for a strong commitment to quality work and service? Why or why not?
3. In what ways are you – or your company – striving to assure your customers of the very best they can expect in terms of excellence, quality and service?
4. Mr. Mathis cites two examples from the Bible, suggesting they offer sound business principles. What is your view of applying principles and values from a book thousands of years old to the contemporary workplace environment?
If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages:
Proverbs 25:13; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:17,23-24; 2 Timothy 3:16-17