Hey guys - Elliot here! Welcome to my blog, where I talk about tutorials, life updates, and random things on my mind. Hope you enjoy this first post on my thoughts about camera gear and if you want to see more content like this, you can let me know in the comments below! That's enough talking though - enjoy blog numero uno :)
So I follow a lot of talented photographers on Instagram and often times I try and figure out how a particular photo was taken. Even before considering things like angle, composition, lighting - I always find myself asking what gear was used to shoot the photo. I leave a comment on their posts and the reply I usually get is a camera or lens that I don't have. This seems to leave me feeling like I can't take good photos without specific cameras or lenses.
A prime (pun intended) example of this is when the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 lens became a popular lens that a lot of my favorite photographers were using. So in my head, I put together the idea that I couldn't take great photos like my favorite photographers unless I had this fantastic Sigma lens. I knew I wanted to buy the lens but buying it meant I would be making the most expensive purchase of my life. To pay for the lens, I got my first real job at a pizza place and shot senior photo sessions whenever I could. After a few months of hard work, I finally had enough to buy the lens (which would instantly make me better at taking photos). I pressed 'add to cart' on my laptop and made the purchase. After what seemed like the longest week of my life, I got my lens in the mail and I was ready to take amazing pictures.
I'm sure you know where this is headed but the Sigma lens didn't really make my photos better.
Some people will disagree, but for me, my new lens was only something that motivated me to shoot more and improve my photos through different editing styles. Sure, there were benefits like wider apertures and shorter focal lengths - but really, those factors aren't going to make your photos much better. What will improve your photography are skills like seeing light in creative ways and learning advanced editing techniques so that you can have complete control over your final image. I went on a lot more shoots after I got my Sigma lens - shooting with new perspectives and creative angles. I spent countless hours in Lightroom learning curves, color theory, and hidden tricks within my editing software.
And I will say, my photos looked a lot better - but not because of my gear. My photos looked better because of what I learned from all the shooting I did during those weeks after I got my lens; it wouldn't have been any different if I used a kit lens during those few weeks either, because it wasn't the lens but the fact that I was constantly shooting that made me a better photographer.
Don't buy new gear until you think you've used that piece of equipment to the fullest and you've tried absolutely everything with it - you can save money and spend it on more important things like food... only half kidding :P I'm not denying that gear is important, because it is - up to a certain point. But if you're at that point, you'll know for sure and you won't have any doubts that it's time to upgrade.
If there's one thing you should take away from this post, it's this: the fastest and most effective way you can get better at photography is to take photos. And I don't mean just setting up a few photo shoots with friends here and there. Keep your camera on you at all times possible and shoot photos of whatever captures your eye. This way you can be exposed to all sorts of different situations and each time you take photos in a new condition, you add one more tool to your mental toolbox and eventually you'll be well equipped to tackle challenging situations during planned photo shoots.
~ Here's to ending excuses and just shooting... photos :)
// ELLIOT CHOY //