Don’t just buy a piece of equipment because it looks cool in the camera store, or in the catalog. I could buy a whole new camera system – lenses included – with the money I’ve spent on professional photography equipment that I’ve used only once. Or never used at all!
While it is true that in many cases top level equipment can make creating our photos easier…the same photos can usually be done with stuff we have lying around! The true secret to mastering the camera and getting stunning photos is not more and more equipment. It’s learning to get the most out of what we already have at hand!
For instance…after our camera and lenses, the biggest piece of professional photography equipment most photographers go after is a studio lighting system. After having studied photography for a while, we realize that most photos will require at least a 3 light setup. So we run out to buy 3 studio lights.
The first thing we see is that… good ones cost an arm and a leg! We don’t have that much! So we buy cheaper, less than optimal lights. For as long as we own our cheap studio lights, we find that they are inefficient and a hassle to use. We won’t even talk about repair bills! Our work suffers and we are never really able to get our creative visions into the camera.
But (we rationalize) we didn’t have much cash, and three of the cheap lights cost about the same amount as only one of the better lights. Here’s where learning to master your equipment is where the pros are separated from the “someday I’m gonnas…”
Buy the ONE best quality light (or any other piece of professional photography equipment) and really learn how to use it. Then study the techniques for using reflectors (you can make them yourself for next to nothing). A reflector bouncing light into your subject – IS – a light! I once saw a video made by the late Dean Collins in which he used one studio light and with the judicious use of reflectors he was able to create a 5 LIGHT setup! And there is no one who wouldn’t call him a master photographer!
So, before you spend a bunch of money on professional photography equipment, learn how to master what you already have (or can make), and then when you do buy something, only buy the best. It will last longer, give you fewer headaches and cost less in the long run.