The Most Commonly asked Photography Question
The Wrong Questions To Ask
Ask any photographer about the most common questions they get from those seeking advice and they'll tell you: What gear do you shoot with & what do you edit with?
Invariably, the answer is always the same: it doesn't matter.
Photography newcomers who ask this question fall into two categories:
They believe that the recipe for great photos is more heavily weighted in the camera gear/software rather than the photographer behind it (it's not).
They want to make sure that they're not limiting themselves to creating great photos by buying the same gear of the photographers that they admire.
Either way, they're coming at photography in the wrong way.
Be the Painter, Not the Paint Brush
Photography has never been about the equipment or software. It is about your vision and the feelings & memories that your photographs capture and evoke in the viewer. Fixating on the gear used to create photographs is akin to fixating on the brush that Picasso used to create his paintings.
Sure, he probably wouldn't have been able to paint to the same effect without a paint brush, but that is beside the point. I'm sure he would have killed it just the same finger painting.
For me, camera technology had reached a sort of plateau ever since the iPhone 4; at least in perceptible difference. Camera photo quality and ease of use had advanced to the point where the importance and limitations of camera gear was no longer an issue. Just look at the galleries of the iPhone Photography Awards.
Photographer Dave Krugman has even gone so far as to recommending that anyone asking this question should buy an iPhone (or smartphone). That way, they can focus purely on mastering the basic fundamentals of photography such as composition & lighting.
There will come a time in your photography career where you will start to reach limitations in regards to what gear you use, but if you even have to ask, it's probably still too early for you.
The Right Questions To Ask
If you're lucky enough to get the chance to speak to a photographer that you really admire, don't waste that opportunity.
Instead of asking generic questions about gear, you need to be asking questions that only they can answer. Your questions should be aimed at picking their brain in the most efficient way that will help you improve your photography game
Think about what interests you most about their work. Think about all your shortcomings and areas that you feel you need improvement and go from there. Ask questions that are specific to their style & genre of photography. Ask questions that you don't think you'd immediately be able to find on Google.
Most importantly, do not fixate on that brush (or camera gear).