Chapter 4 — Investments and Gears
In the previous chapter, I established the superiority of Internet over colleges to learn the art of photography since the former saves your time and money besides offering other advantages. Now that you have saved yourself from paying the unnecessary college fee, it is time to think about utilizing that money in smart investments and gears. This chapter aims at providing you a practical view on investments, loans and rentals to learn the art of photography in a way that makes your business successful in the same.
Firstly, you need to understand that no matter how passionate you are, whenever you attempt to learn something, it is not advisable to invest huge amount of money into the same since you never know whether by the end of the learning process, you are still going to feel as passionate about it or not.
At the end of the day, the future is uncertain and passion works till a point. It is due to these reasons that you must invest your money wisely (by spending as minimum amount as possible) and start learning with whatever you have at your disposal. The two options that require minimum capital investment on your part to begin learning the art of photography are mobile phones, and rentals.
Here are a few major benefits of beginning the learning process in the art of photography with a mobile phone:
- Almost all the smartphones these days are equipped with basic DSLR functions (in app) like shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Due to this reason, they provide a good start to understand the basic concept of photography techs and rules.
- Mobile phones are handy and readily available. Almost everybody these days possesses a phone. Even if you don’t have one yet, you can request your friends or family members to lend it to you for some time.
- Mobile phones are good to practice photo editing. You can easily learn basic photography editing techniques like, maintaining colour temperature and white balance on applications such as, SnapSeed, and PicsArt.
- Mobile phones are good to understand rules like, Golden Ratio, and Rule of Thirds.
- Mobile phones provide a good understanding of lighting techniques to the beginners.
Now, let’s talk about the other option, that is, rentals. When you have practiced on the mobile phone for a considerable amount of time, you need to up your game by learning professional photography through a camera. However, it is not advisable to readily invest in buying a professional camera that costs around 2–3 lacs. There are a lot of brands of cameras available in the market and you need to understand as many of them as possible to discover which ones suit your style the best. And this is where the rentals come to your aid.
Almost every city in India these days has camera rental shops that provide you the device on per day basis at minimal prices. I personally used the rentals for a couple of years before investing to buy a professional camera of my own. Here are a few major benefits of using rentals to begin learning professional photography:
- Nominal rates, not more than 1–2k per day.
- Rentals help you in developing the ‘deadline’ attitude because of restricted rental hours.
- Depreciation of the gear won’t affect your pocket.
- You can try many brands of cameras before actually buying the one that pleases your style.
Here’s a professional tip: Practice on rentals for 2–3 years before buying your own professional camera. Until and unless you start getting shoots on the daily basis, keep using the rentals even for professional work, for instance, freelancing for a company that requires one or two days of field work per week. However, if your job demands daily need of a camera, it is time to invest in professional gears. For example, if you get the job of a photo journalist or a cinematographer in some content generation company, then you must shift from rentals to buying a professional camera of your own since the latter will be more economical than the former. How? Simple calculation: Using rentals for 30 days of the month will cost you around 25–30k even after negotiations with the rental agency. But if you take the loan for buying your own camera, it will cost around 10–12k per month. Although you should invest in buying your own gear(s) only when:
- You have daily requirement of the gears.
- You have plans and schedules set for the next six months.
- And you need camera almost daily or say at least 20 days per month. Else it is better to rely on the rentals.
Again, a lot of factors come into play when you think of investing in gears. For instance, it will be very risky to invest in Arri Alexa or RED camera even if you are working 20 days per month since they come with the risk of depreciation. But some camera models like, Canon Mark 3 has had good re-sale value till last year, that is, 2017. Due to these reasons, it is necessary to get the taste of as many camera models as possible through rentals before actually buying one that holds more pros and as less cons as possible.
Now, let’s talk about laptops and editing suite. As discussed above in this chapter, you can learn the basics of editing through the various photo editing applications on your mobile phone like, SnapSeed, VSCO, Adobe Photoshop, PicsArt, Pixlr, and LightRoom.
But in order to learn photo and video editing on the professional level, you need a laptop or a computer. The bigger screen is required to edit minute details and to correct the colours in the pictures properly. Investing in a laptop is as necessary as buying a professional camera. Again, the laptops range from 15–20k to 1–2 lacs; there is no end to it. Buy the one that does not dig a hole in your pocket, and suits your requirements. For photo editing, basic laptops will work, but if you are into video editing, it is suggested that you must invest a little more and buy a good laptop or system.
That’s it about investments. Time to learn how to market yourself in the field of photography. Wait for the next article!
Meanwhile, you can join my Facebook group, “Grow Your Art” which is a community (in the making) of photographers, cinematographers, other artists belonging to the similar stream. This community aims at developing a healthy environment for the collective growth of individuals in this business. The artists here actively participate in the discussions, and help and guide each other to grow in the Indian market.