Entering the photography world can be intimidating for newbies. One of the biggest reasons novice photographers hesitate taking up the hobby is feeling like they can’t start without great equipment at their disposal. The question is this, however; do you REALLY need top notch gear to start learning and creating great images?
NOT AT ALL, AND HERE ARE MY THREE REASONS WHY. FEEL FREE TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND ADDITIONAL REASONS IN THE COMMENTS, AS WELL!
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(Pictured left: a recent phone selfie of me with my Nikon D5200 that I just now upgraded from)
LEARNING THE TECHNICAL AND ARTISTIC BASICS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
Every photographer tells those coming in that knowledge of basics creates good photos and not the equipment you purchase. There’s a reason they say that – it’s true. If you don’t have basic knowledge of shooting in manual mode and photography aspects such as ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and composition (among other things), not even the best $10,000.00+ gear collection will save your images. Once you improve with the basics, I guarantee you that you will see your work evolve even with an entry-level camera. And, with that improvement, you will also be able to make great images even with the limitations of a cell phone camera.
I’m currently working on retiring my Nikon D5200, but I can’t say it hasn’t served me well. I purchased it in August 2022 for $250.00 off of Facebook Marketplace. The bundle wasn’t much as it was the camera body, a little camera bag, and two kit lenses (Nikkor DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and Nikkor DX 55-200mm f/4.5-6.0 zooms). However, some of the best work thus far in my portfolio came from that camera as I sought out knowledge and skills over the months and practiced constantly.
A few of my overall favorite portfolio photos taken with that camera are below:
STARTING OFF WITH PRO EQUIPMENT IS ACTUALLY A DISADVANTAGE
Professional photography equipment is marketed toward professionals for a reason. Camera bodies themselves have an extensive number of buttons, settings, and features not available on entry-level bodies. I get what you may be thinking, too; doesn’t more options mean “better” for me?
When you know what you’re doing with it all or in a better place to learn about more features, sure. This isn’t necessarily the case when you’re learning.
As I mentioned before, I recently upgraded from my familiar Nikon D5200 and got my “new” camera, which is a Nikon D810. Even with prior camera experience, looking at all of the buttons and settings felt overwhelming beyond belief. (I’m still looking around in the menus and researching anything new to me as things come up.) Too many options to toggle causes a dreadful sense of overwhelm, which then leads to quitting photography all together when you don’t know where to start. You’re better off becoming familiar with basic tools and graduating to more complicated ones than staring at your camera dumbly unsure of what to learn first.
YOU HAVE TO KNOW YOUR NEEDS TO UPGRADE EFFICIENTLY
When you begin your photography journey, you work on carving out a niche (or niches) for yourself as you experiment with different styles and find the ones you enjoy. As you find those areas you enjoy and keep practicing, you learn more about factors that affect your photo-taking (angles to use, lighting conditions, etc.). You can use that knowledge you gain to upgrade smarter rather than faster. Doing so will save you from some purchases that don’t serve you or your work.
Let’s use concert photography as an example. The two biggest challenges concert photographers face are these:
- Low-light conditions that do not allow flash use
- Uncertain distance factors such as stage height and whether you are photographing from the photo pit, the crowd, or soundboard/FOH
For the lighting conditions, some would think they need to upgrade their camera body first; that can’t be further from the truth, though. If you want to invest early, your first order of business would be buying appropriate glass (how we refer to lenses). Concert photography go-to lenses have low fixed aperture or “f” numbers of 2.8 and lower to allow more light to enter through the lens. Some popular lens choices include prime lenses such as a 35mm or 50mm f/1.8 or 1.4, the 24-70 f/2.8 zoom lens, and the 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto lens for soundboard/FOH sets. (The camera body upgrade will come in time.)
Enjoy playing around with different styles you like and do some digging in to see what makes photos of that style great. Then you’ll know which lenses you need along with any other techniques necessary to get the shots you see in your mind.
2 Comments Add yours
Awesome pictures! The concert example was fun, I am reintroducing myself to photography slowly, so thinking of how to best take a picture in a high-energy, probably chaotic scene was helpful.
I’m so glad you found it helpful! I’m newer to photography and always learning, so I’m grateful when I can manage to be educational. I’d love to know and see what niches interest you since you can go in so many directions.