“What camera should I buy?” This is a question that gets tossed around a lot by newer photographers with money to burn and tech obsessed hobby photographers that upgrade their gear as frequently as people upgrade their smartphones.
Karl Taylor is a professional photographer and educator with an extensive twenty year career under his belt. Take one look at his portfolio and it becomes obvious why he is a Hasselblad ambassador who creates educational content for Broncolor regularly. Karl’s direct approach without sugarcoating makes him a favorite among many and he has some tough love to give for anyone obsessed over the latest gear.
[REWIND: 4 TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THEY LOVE & HOW TO START WITHOUT A LARGE INVESTMENT]
It. Doesn’t. Matter. There are manual 35mm film cameras selling on eBay for a few hundred dollars that are more than capable of producing great images – in fact these ancient workhorses were used to produce and satisfy all photographic needs prior to digital and they managed. Extrapolation software was used for properly enlarging images for anything larger than an 8×10 back in the day. Sure it took hours and sometimes days, but it got the job done. Seeing as how most of the images being reproduced will never exceed the size of a large wall display, the megapixel count is a non-issue and any modern camera will suffice.
The latest and greatest gear that money can buy will not automatically make someone a great photographer. The advent of digital has only simplified things and made it more difficult to fail which is a pity because failure is one of the best ways to challenge oneself and improve one’s craft. At the end of the day no one is as good as they think they are and any one camera will not fix any shortcomings. Rent several cameras and pick the one that feels and works best for you.
Money is much better spent on glass. That doesn’t mean that you must acquire every prime focal length and zoom lens that money can buy. Determine what lenses are required to bring the money in and then rent or borrow anything else. I’ve owned only two lenses, a 50mm 1.2L and an 85mm 1.2L, for the entirety of my career. I rent a 35mm anytime I need a wider focal length because I use it so infrequently and therefore it will not pay for itself.
Most lighting equipment can achieve desirable results once it has been learned. While modifiers are a ton of fun to play with, it is amazing what a simple white Shoot Through Umbrella can accomplish. Again, buy only what is needed and rent anything else that is additionally needed.
All in all, the question needs to be shifted from “What gear should I buy?” to “What can I do to become a better photographer?” The time asking that question is better spent studying composition, exposure, technique and putting it into practice while learning how to evoke emotion in an image. The latest and most expensive gear isn’t a prerequisite to good photography and should only be purchased if the shortcomings of what you already own begin to limit you and your income can substantiate it – or if you have extra cash floating around that you can’t fathom spending elsewhere.
The following video rant from Karl Taylor is entertaining with tough love and really drives home the notion that most amateur photographers have been missing the point. Also make sure to subscribe to Karl’s YouTube channel for an entire library of educational videos.