Two of the most common questions I often get from people are “I don’t have enough money to invest on a DSLR but I’d like to learn photography, what should I do?” Or “How can I make the best out of what I have now until I invest in a decent camera?”. These are great questions and I want to give you my best advices in this post so they can help you if you are in this situation. Let’s get started!
1) You don’t need a new camera
Yes! You DON’T need to buy a new camera to make the best out of the photography gears you have. I am not saying this to please anybody (because I know this is the answer everybody wants) but I am saying there are PLENTY of ways to improve your photography skills before you are mentally and financially ready for a decent camera.
If you visit my getting started page the 3 things that I talked about were INSPIRATIONS, PHOTOGRAPHY TECHNIQUES AND POST PROCESSING SKILLS. You need all these three elements to be a great photographer but you do not need expensive gears to achieve that. Buying the ultimate gears may probably give you the convenience to learn photography faster but if you are not prepare for it the pictures you produce will just be like every point and shoot cameras. You now may wonder “what are the difference between buying a good camera now or until later when I can make the investment”? Well, let me walk you through the advantages if you own a DSLR today.
– You have a camera that can handle better in low light conditions
– You get better megapixels
– You get better frame per second
– You look “cool” compare to other people who owns a point and shoot camera
That’s it! Unless you are planning to hang your picture at the art museum, doing indoor sports photography for a magazine, or shooting long exposure of star trails for National Geographic then what you current own is enough for you to start your photography journey.
2) Focus on your photography techniques.
With the current gears you have, even if you own an Iphone or a disposable camera with 27 exposures, you can do the following to focus on your photography techniques. I’ve mentioned these in my previous post here, but what you can do now is to look up Instagram, 500PX, Pinterest and Flickr for ideas then use whatever photography gears to have to produce the same effect. Say if you see a picture that you like on Pinterest and you only have an Iphone, then try to use your iphone to produce that same picture. Doing this will give you opportunities to practice on your composition skills and train your photographer’s eyes.
To give you an example of how Iphone photography can make a person famous, Larissa from http://blonde-gypsy.com/ is famous with her iphone photography. She travels all over the world to take great pictures and she does not need expensive gears. I highly recommend checking on her blog and understand that we should not limit ourselves on photography gears.
3) The less is more
One of the best techniques I always tell people starting out photography is ‘the less is more’. What that mean is the less complexity you put on your photograph the better the photograph is towards the viewer. And the good news is we often don’t need expensive gears to produce that kind of images.
Take a look at the two images below. One of them is from my iphone and the other one from my Canon 5D Mark II. They both produce a great image for the viewer and any camera can do the same thing! So don’t let you gears give you excuses to not try hard in your photography skills.
4) It’s time to find your photographic style
We have been talking about not to buy new gears and to keep learning new techniques. Another thing I highly suggest you to do now is to find your photographic style. Think about the followings:
– What style of photography do you like the best? Portrait, landscape, macro, sports, pet etc?
– Any special colors you like? Perhaps black and white?
Now is the best time to choose your style and concentrate on it. That doesn’t mean you have to be a prisoner of your own style, but when you go out taking different kinds of photographs think about what is your ultimate goal in photography.
5) Challenge yourself in different ways
If you have done all the above and still have extra time, I suggest you challenge yourself or other photographers with the gears you have right now. Enter a photo contest on Instagram (by the way I’ve written a post here and here), do a 365 days challenges, weekly challenges and so on. In fact, there is a website that you can sign up for these kind of challenges with any gears you can think of here http://365project.org/. Another reason of not limiting yourself with the gears you have right!
6) If all else fails, follow these
If you still decide to buy a new camera, by all means please buy one. In this case I’ve a few suggestions for you to start without breaking your bank. Please note that this is for buying a DSLR camera only:
2) Other than the kit lens that comes with your DSLR. Buy a 50MM f1.8 lens for your second additional lens. This is a sharp lens that cost around $100 and it will improve your photography skills.
3) Get an external flash. You can buy a cheap one for less than $80 bucks with a Yongnuo YN-560 III.
Buying the above 3 basic equipment will definitely make photography easier to learn but don’t forget to focus on the pictures and not the gears! Happy shooting photographers!
When should you invest in a new camera? What are your thoughts? Share with us below!