"You must have a really great camera!"
Oh how do I love this comment! Okay it isn't entirely fair to jump on someone who says this but, yeah I am going to do it anyway.
I realize that in the moment of passion viewing someone's photograph, that the viewer may not have any training/experience in any of the arts and especially in photography. So the best compliment (or add on compliment) that they can utter is "Wow, you must have a really great camera!."
Let me relate a little story about a similar situation another photographer found himself in. A pro photographer was invited to a friends house for a dinner gathering. When he entered the home the lady of the house greeted him with the phrase above. He nodded his thanks and went on to enjoy her fabulous dinner she had prepared. At the completion of the meal he exclaimed, "Wow that dinner was wonderful, you must have a really fancy stove!"
So, what is the point here? I guess folks really do not have a clue (not necessarily their fault) as to what it takes to be a photographer, the hours-days-years of study, practice, equipment expense and such. This is apparent to me when people's eyes glaze over hearing my response as to what it costs for a session or a print, what have you. It's tough to understand what a photographer has to go through, learning and applying the theories of photography just to make photographs. Why? Well everyone has some sort of camera these days. Heck they can put cameras in pens! So anyone who has any kind of camera is now an instant photographer? Seriously?
I had the delightful <100% total snark here> opportunity to work temporarily in/for one of those corporate run box photography studios. You know, the kind that offers you an incredible amount of studio prints in exchange for a few measly dollars? Well my job was to convince the public at large to have sessions done at this 'studio'. I must say that although the 'photographers' there did a decent job with the portraits (once they had been there a few months) the quality was rather sub professional, in my opinion.
Still for the few dollars to have a studio session and have 'X' number of prints (no matter what the quality) is dirt cheap compared to a professional studio. On more than one occasion chatting with a potential client, they would remark that they either do their own photography or have a camera. So I would press in further only to find out that they really just 'have' a camera but really don't have a clue how to actually make photographs. These folks simply 'snapped' pictures. There is a major difference and so the difference in cost.
If you see a photograph you admire and that photographer is there (or you are commenting on it in some fashion, even on the web) please take a moment to really absorb the photograph and then express what it is you enjoy about it. That will go a long way to helping you connect and truly see the photograph and the comment you will make will be anything but, "Gee, you must have a very nice camera!"
~ The Light Scriber