Starting on Photography? Here’s What You Need to Know

It’s not about the gears.

“Photography is an expensive hobby.”

The most common statement I have heard about photography. But that didn’t stop me from exploring photography and I don’t want any starters to be hindered by equipment either.

Sure enough, we know of photographers that carry multiple gears when they conduct a photoshoot. They may upgrade their DSLRs now and then, adding the latest lens to their collection and bringing their latest setup around.

As beginners, we look up to professional photographers around us. We emulate the professional works. The scenic landscape with vibrant hues. The candid expressions captured just before it was gone.

Photo by Austin Pacheco on Unsplash

We want to know what it takes to succeed as a photographer. And so one of the common questions we ask would be, “Which camera should I buy?” I’m here to burst the bubble:

Your existing camera is sufficient. Don’t buy another one just yet.

I get you. Even when you become a seasoned photographer, there’s always the temptation to get the new camera or the new lens. But think twice before you make the purchase impulsively, do you really need another one?

If you don’t have an existing camera (I’m even considering your smartphone or compact cameras), then granted you should consider purchasing one within your budget. But there’s no need to break your bank when starting out.

In some extreme cases, photography really becomes an expensive hobby for them. They may even be falling into Gear Acquisition Syndrome. (Heck, there’s even a term to coin this)

“To photographers, this type of retail therapy is known as gear acquisition syndrome. Someone with this syndrome impulsively buys cameras and related gear, amassing more camera gear than they can realistically use.”

— Joshua Sariñana

In The Science of Gear Acquisition Syndrome, Joshua Sariñana mentioned that stress promotes this behaviour. Just as how you have your ways of relieving stress, retail therapy is a method for some. Unconsciously, this may lead to impulsive purchases and when it comes to cameras, that’s a lot of money spent in the blink of an eye. One of the possible sources of stress highlighted by Sariñana comes from Fearing Creativity.

Oh right, photography is a creative after all. So let’s first get this right:

Photography is not about asset collection. Photography need not be an expensive hobby if you choose not to let it be.

So let’s get back to the basics then. Beyond the gears, what is photography?

Photography is more than the masculine DSLR, the vintage film camera.

Photography is about pictures. It’s about the frame you produce. It’s about the emotions you evoke from your viewers.

It’s about the story you depict. The story captured through your eyes.

Photography is ultimately an art. Through the lens, through your eyes, photography is an avenue for expression.

It is a craft.

Sounds daunting? As highlighted by Sariñana and I’ll admit it too, going through a creative process can be intimidating for its uncertainties. Taking on a new project, even a self-initiated one, is like adventuring into uncharted waters.

Heading to town and exploring street photography may make you feel self-conscious. You may travel overseas with your camera along but have a tinge of doubt in you — What will I be able to shoot?

Are we getting down to the fear in you? Know that you are not the only one experiencing this and this hurdle can be overcome. Check out my recent reflections after reading the book, The Magic of Thinking Big, if you haven’t.

Remember, it’s not about how many gears you own or the price tag of your latest setup. Pursuing photography is an adventure of its own, so muster up your courage, grab your existing camera and go forth.

Because photography is a reflection of your vision. What you set sight on when you trigger the shutter.

So, what’s your story?

Technologist and Photographer

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