I would say at least once a week I get asked what kind of camera I shoot with and what my studio lighting set up is and it’s usually followed with a “well, no wonder your photos look the way they do”. Again and again, people always seem to be criticizing their camera gear and blaming their ‘bad images’ on a lack of ‘professional’ equipment and I’m here to tell you that just because a store doesn’t classify it as a professional-grade product, doesn’t mean you can’t use it in a professional situation.
The majority of my portfolio was shot with a Canon 40D. It was my first DSLR and I have used it ‘professionally’ numerous of times. My hope with this article is to motivate you that you don’t need expensive gear to make a career of photography. I started small and worked my way up. I purchased the 40D, starting shoot bands, and small projects. From that, I made enough money to purchase some strobes and the amount of projects increased. I started shooting weddings and more portraiture, again all with a ‘low-grade’ Canon 40D.
Would it have been easier to start out with top of the line gear? To be honest, I’m not too sure. Having minimal gear forced me to use creativity over technology. I learned to be creative and experiment with one light situations because at times I only had one light. If you took all the negative energy you put towards how bad your gear is, and turned it into positive energy and look at it as a challenge, then there is no stopping what your gear can do.
I once sat in on a workshop by an amazing photographer named Zack Arias (www.zarias.com) and he was telling me how for years he has shot with low end Alien Bees strobes and just in general, low end gear. I looked at him and thought, “This man is globally known as a photographer and doesn’t care at all about top of the line gear”. It was super inspiring to see how successful one can be when you use your mind and don’t rely on technology. I think that’s what makes people good photographers. Anyone can press a shutter button. Cameras today are so advanced that sometimes it’s hard to take a bad photo BUT it’s your creativity and drive that will make you successful in this industry for years. Although Zack does say he wouldn’t mind having top of the line gear, but states that it’s more important to feed his family.
I now shoot with way better gear, but I would never tell anyone just starting out to go ahead and spend thousands and thousands of dollars right away. I own numerous strobes, but it’s weird, some of my best shots come from just using one or two lights.
Yesterday, I watched a video online about this same idea which was the inspiration for this post. So if you think you need a ten thousand dollar camera to do an amazing fashion shoot, well don’t tell Lee Morris. Watch the video below and see what kind of camera he shoots with.
Video from FStoppers
Yes, he did the entire shoot with an iPhone and actually uses some of those photos in his portfolio. So don’t say your camera can’t take good photos.
I find it funny that on some photography forums that I visit frequently, the people posting, list their gear they use at the bottom of their post. Sometimes I’ll see people with gear that would total to about $30,000 and then you check their website and they don’t know the first thing about photography. Looks like somebody won the lottery.
I hope this inspires you to appreciate the gear you have and use your head. Figure out how to make it work because it’s possible.