Over the years I’ve heard, ”It’s not the camera, but the person behind it.” Admittedly, this always feels like a cheese ball statement, but I’m starting to believe its true. If you’ve got the ability to pay attention to whats going on around you, I believe you can capture something beautiful and meaningful.
I’ve spent a lot of time hiding behind gear, pretty angles with blurred bokeh, nice lighting, and also being worried about what I have and don’t have to be a successful photographer. Photography, to me at least should be about capturing photos of people and life as it is naturally. You don’t need a fancy camera for that. Heck, you can capture beautiful moments with your phone if you wanted to.
I received an email today asking,
"In your opinion, should I try to go old school or just start out with the digital, latest and greatest?”
Though I didn’t pick up a camera until later, I first became interested in the idea of photography in high school. Someone told me,
”As long as you get a good lens, your good.” However, not all of us have the ability to drop thousands of dollars for the newest and “best” thing. I know I sure didn’t and most of the time now, still don’t! Ha!
I was recently gifted a 1988 “point and shoot camera” from an old family friend. What is a “point and shoot”? Its literally a camera that you point at what you want to capture, and click a button take the photo. Similar to the old disposable cameras, but a bit nicer! No moving buttons a certain way or manually adjusting your focus. You just buy a roll of film that is a speed thats going to be bright enough for the setting your in, pop it into your camera, and start clicking away. It even automatically winds the film for you! SUPER SIMPLE.
My Friend Sam and his partner recently booked a shoot at my studio for digital and medium format photos, so I thought I’d add this gadget into the mix as well. I wanted to take some portraits and see what it was capable of. Or what I was capable of on such a tiny device.
For a 30 year old camera, the photos actually turned out incredible. I was honestly impressed and blown away. I get that at this point I have years of experience taking photos, but its nothing “Fancy” or “New” in the realm of cameras. You can get one off etsy or eBay for $20.00-$30.00.
I whole heartedly believe, while having nice camera gear is great, you can still make something awesome w/ cheap or next to no fancy or new gear.
This principle goes way beyond photography. If you want to do something and feel like you’re lacking to make it happen, theres probably another way. I’ve seen this even in my own life lately. A year ago I bought some printers to start doing pop ups where I set up studios in random places around town and printed portraits on the spot. I had two printers and after about 8 months, they both stopped working. I bought a new one and that stopped working too. I wanted to buy another, but couldn’t quite justify buying yet a 3rd one.
I had two old polaroid cameras in my closet that I’d use just for fun and travel. I figured out a way to hook them up to my same lighting set up and start making instant professional portraits off of those. It seems silly, but in the moment, I was very frustrated about the printers and not having what I “needed”. I also thought I was crazy for trying to get people to purchase polaroids, despite how nice they may have looked. But, its been successful. Sometimes accidents have to happen or you just have to start fooling around with what what you’ve already got, to begin making something great and successful.
So, the answer is, if you’re able, get the latest and greatest. Have a ball.
You really can use anything to make something great. Go to a thrift store or grab the old thing sitting on your shelf in your closet. It doesn’t have to be perfect or knew to get started with something you want to do. In the words of Shia LaBeouf, “Just do it!”