How Large is Your Frying Pan?


How large is your frying pan


I recently heard a story told by Nick Saban, the head football coach at the University of Alabama. Coach Saban said that when he was a kid back in West Virginia that he used to go fishing with an older gentleman.  He said that he never caught a fish, but when he went with this man, the guy would catch fish every time. He would catch all kinds of fish, but he would throw back the big ones and keep the little ones.

Saban said that he wasn’t catching anything, so he finally asked him why he was throwing back the big ones and keeping the little ones. The man replied, “Well, my frying pan is only 9 inches wide.”

Saban said when he heard that story that he purposed that no matter what happened in life, work, or play that he would always have a frying pan the size of the moon. He went on to explain that he liked telling the story to his players, because it is a great example of self-limitation. You can’t exceed the limits you place on yourself.

How many times do we as photographers, base our success on the size of our frying pan, or what type of equipment we might have. If you are fortunate enough to own a frying pan the size of the moon then I’m proud for you. However, for those of us who aren’t, maybe we can begin cutting the fish to fit the one that we do have.  I’m certainly not saying that we shouldn’t buy new equipment. In fact I’m currently in the market for a new lens. However, my point is that whenever we do find ourselves limited by our equipment, to use our creativity and think of another way to make it happen.





14 thoughts on “How Large is Your Frying Pan?

  1. Great title for a blog post, Phillip, and a great story too. I have been eyeballing the new Nikon D600 and D800 for quite some time now, but to be honest, my D300 is doing a pretty fine job. I have printed 24×36 prints from that camera, and they looked great. So I am keeping my “frying pan” for a little while longer… …now a new tripod and ball head would be nice

    1. LOL – Great comment Jan.
      Honestly my point isn’t to talk you out of getting that D800. Heck, I with I could justify (and afford) one. This story just reminded me of a comment that I had heard by another photographer (I think it was Rick Sammon) several years ago. He was speaking about shouting with one lens, and explained if you couldn’t zoom in enough, you could always walk closer to the subject. The point being that you do what it takes to get the shot and if it calls for getting creative then so be it.

  2. An excellent post, Phillip, and very much on point. My 6 and 8-year old D300 and D200 cameras are still working just fine for me.


    1. Thanks Danielle. I realize that this post can be understood several ways. Whatever way it speaks, I guess is alright with me. However, I’m really not saying not to purchase new equipment if you can afford to do so. I am saying that if you are unable to afford that whatever, or maybe if you ran off and left it at home, to make it work. Think about what you can do to get the shot. In other words, cut the fish to make it fit the pan.

      1. Phillip, perhaps I worded it wrong , but I completely understand what you’re saying. No, I cannot afford to buy the latest and greatest camera/lens and I do what I can with what I have in my had at that time.

        1. I didn’t feel that you worded it wrongly Danielle. I understand and agree with your point completely. We all are able to afford certain things at different times in our life. We purchase what we can afford an make do with it. However, I was just trying to state that my whole point was not necessarily with purchasing the equipment. It was making do with what you happen to have on the spot at the time. Thanks for your reply.

  3. Great advice and cool story Phillip. I have resisted the D600 and D800 and am actually selling off some of my lenses. No one asks what camera and lens you used for a great photo except for other photographers…

    1. Thanks Len. Cindy and I have been out of out this past week visiting Savannah, Georgia. What a beautiful historical city. Take a guess at the up coming subject of some future post!
      As for my lens, I have mixed feelings. I have a Nikon D5000. Your lens probably won’t work because the lens AF motor is built in the lens and the 5000 isn’t a full frame camera. However, I looking to invest in a good sharp lens. I been thinking about a wide angle lens such as a 10-24 or an 11-16. Then I saw a wide macro which also sounded interesting. If you know of something available I’d be interested. Thanks for asking.

    1. Thanks Andrew. Then I suppose that you know exactly what I talking about, having to be creative in the field to get that certain image that you have a vision of creating.

  4. A great post, with humour and poignancy. And I totally agree – if going for the big fish doesn’t literally mean big cameras and equipment, which clearly isn’t your message despite the fun picture. But when it comes to images and creativity, I would surely get a frying pan big as a moon.

    1. A real large pan would have been fun. I also thought about using one of those very small pans, but the point of the post is to use what you have. LOL

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