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My Photography Sucks! I Need Better Equipment!

Everyone wants to be able to capture stunning photographs. Even people who have no actual interest in photography would still like to possess the skill to be able to take those kinds of beautiful images they see coming from talented and professional photographers. A lot of people — whether they have an actual interest in photography or not — have experienced a time where they have taken a photo of something, or someone, and it just came out great. Just as a fluke. The lighting just happened to be right, they just, by mistake, managed to frame the image in such a way that arranged all the elements in a certain way so as to provide visual impact, the wind just happened to be blowing the subject’s hair in beautiful pattern, etc., etc. ‘Something‘ about the image looks “professional.” And, having this photo, they beam with pride whenever they get an opportunity to show it to friends and family — usually saying something along the lines of “Look at how this picture turned out! I love this shot so much!” Practically everyone has done that. People love beautiful, interesting images. And, everyone would love to have the ability to create such images at will.

My Photography SucksIn pursuit of this, a lot of people will spend a fair amount of money to purchase a high-quality camera thinking that the extra money spent on the better camera will result in better photographs. They’re always disappointed, however, and they experience frustration when they discover that this is actually not the case. It really is the photographer, and not the camera, that truly makes the difference. As a very successful professional photographer friend of mine who has been teaching photography courses for years is fond of telling his students: “If your pictures suck, the you suck! It’s not your camera that sucks, it’s you!” He drills that into the heads of each of his students.

So, if you truly wish to take better photographs you must work on improving you — your skill. If you don’t first do that, acquiring the most expensive camera in the world would be nothing but a waste of money.

If I hand the cheapest, biggest piece of garbage camera that’s available to an experienced, talented, skilled professional photographer, and I hand the best, baddest, most expensive camera currently being made to someone who’s been taking pictures for a month, and I tell both of them to spend a day getting photographs, who do you think is going to come back with the better images? It’s the skilled photographer shooting with the junk camera — every single time. I guarantee it.

You need to guard against falling into the “gear-head” mentality of photography. If you look at your images and don’t like what you see, there is a tendency amongst many new photographers to then say to themselves “I need a better camera.”, Or, “I need this lens or that one.”, Or, “If I only had this specific piece of equipment, or a better one of these or those, then my pictures would look awesome.” Get this method of thinking out of your head! It’s wrong! If you’re looking at your photos and you don’t like what you see, then what you need is to improve your skill with photography — the best equipment in the world wont help you. I guarantee that I could find any number of skilled, experienced photographers, hand them the very camera and equipment that you’re using, and they will produce images that will make your jaw drop.

I was shooting 35mm and medium-format film as a professional photographer for long before digital cameras ever became popular. Photography paid my mortgage and put food on my family’s table. When digital SLRs came onto the market, I wasn’t sure, for the longest time, if I wanted to make the switch from film to digital. At one point, however, about six years ago now, I finally decided that D-SLRs were beginning to compete well in terms of image quality with 35mm film. But, I still wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to make the switch — I didn’t want to invest a whole lot of money into a digital camera and then find out that I really didn’t like it. So, what I did was, I bought the cheapest entry level D-SLR on the market — figuring that if I didn’t like, I hadn’t spent all that much money. And, if I did like it, I could sell it for however much I could get and re-invest in a better system.

My photography sucks.I shot with that camera for about a year before I decided that I would stick with digital and upgrade. But, in that year that I shot with the cheapest D-SLR available on the market, I produced many, many stunning pictures using that camera and sold them through my agencies. The cheapest entry level camera available on the market went a long way to help in paying my mortgage. If I can shoot images that professional agencies will want to put in their catalogs, and that sell as mine did, using the cheapest, biggest hunk-of-junk camera on the market, then you can do the same with your camera.

Remember: If your pictures look like crap, it’s not the camera’s fault. Getting a better camera WILL NOT solve the problem. If your photos look like crap, it’s YOU! It’s not the camera. You need to improve your skill — you don’t need to improve your camera, or your equipment. Fix yourself first.

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