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Great Gear Doesn’t Make Great Artists!

Intro by Skip Cohen

In this post from Chamira Young’s archives, she hits on one of my favorite topics – dealing with all you gear-hounds out there! Over the years, I’ve met so many “if only” photographers. You know the profile, they’re continually blaming their lack of great images on not having the best gear or the dream studio, and the list goes on and on with a never-ending stream of “If only I had…”

Years ago, at a Skip’s Summer School, Vincent Laforet was a speaker. He talked about many of his earlier images and then said to the audience, “You know what you do when you don’t have a long enough lens? There was silence. “You move in closer!”

Then there’s, Joe Buissink, one of the country’s leading wedding photographers who openly talks about buying a tilt/shift lens when he was first starting. He thought it would give his work a unique look, and all it did was tie up his cash flow. He barely used it and later sold it as used and took the loss.

And for those of you who think everybody has a nicer studio than you, some of my most favorite portraits over the years were captured in a trade show booth with a couple of lights and a backdrop! The legendary Don Blair, for example, could capture and create stunning images anywhere!

Great gear is nice to have, but it doesn’t make up for a weak skill set or replace the need for creativity. But, if you’re truly short on equipment here are a couple of things to consider;

  • Rent or lease: You don’t need to OWN everything. Consider financing programs that allow you to utilize somebody else’s assets without depleting yours.
  • Need something expensive and exotic? Think about sharing gear. From expensive lenses to large format printers, share the cost and usage with another artist.
  • Can’t afford the studio of your dreams? Maybe it’s time to “buddy-up.” So many photographers share space and work together to build their brand and awareness in the community.

Here’s the bottom line – It’s your creativity; ability to listen and understand your clients, and then deliver images exceeding their expectations that will build your business and reputation, not your gear.

By Chamira Young

Let’s face it, nearly every photographer has been guilty of this at one point or another and you are probably no exception. We get roped into buy-ins, referrals, and all of the latest and greatest when it comes to our photography business, but by the end of the month, we have no clue where all of our money is going.

We get signed up for and indebted to tons of tools, programs, and gear and is it all necessary? Well, in the end, it’s for you to decide but there are a few reasons why you don’t need an abundance of money to make our photography businesses success.

All Camera Gear Works: The camera doesn’t make the photographer no matter the circumstances. All camera gear is not created equal, but it’s been proven time and time again that no matter the gear, the photographer is the element that makes the magic.

All camera gear is great gear for a photographer. Just being able to create art in photography is enough to ensure that no matter how nice or expensive the camera is the camera gear means nothing compared to imagination and creativity. You do not need to spend thousands of dollars on camera gear. Instead, spend time cultivating creativity and some fresh ideas to show your photography skills.

Don’t Buy Premium of Everything: Yet another issue that tons of photographers have is investing in a premium of everything. Organization tools, editing tools, email and website tools and platforms all cost something, but the tools are simple and have a distinct purpose. But do you?

When you spend money on these tools and platforms, are you utilizing their purpose to the full extent of the price you are paying to use them? Instead, don’t go for the premium features right away. It’s likely locking you into something long term and will make you pay for things that you can usually create on your own with a bit more work and creativity.

Your Imagination is Free: One of the greatest tools you can ever invest in is your own imagination. Your imagination is so powerful, strong, and creative and you should take more time and energy to flex those mental muscles and work on something unique and new and out of your comfort zone. When you use your imagination, even if you are forcing yourself to, you are making new connections in your brain and opening more doors to different ideas.

Plus, the best part? It’s free. Investing and utilizing the creativity in your own mind doesn’t cost you anything.

Photographers, especially new photographers, are always using money as an excuse for why they cannot take things to the next level. When in reality, they are spending money on these tools and pieces of gear that are nice, but not usually necessary. There are tons of examples when professional photographers use the cheap gear and when amateurs use expensive equipment, the results will still astound you.

A good photographer; one who is confident and creative will create magic no matter what they have to use at their disposal. It’s time for you to take on that mindset. Don’t buy things that are breaking the budget right now and make the best of what you have. Challenge yourself to go outside the limits that “cheap gear” puts on your and build some creative muscle memory to use later when you can actually afford these things.