I started photography when I got back from my trip to the Azores in 2016.
That trip inspired me to invest in my first camera as soon as I got back home to Florida.
I went to Best Buy, bought a Canon Rebel T5i which came with a 18-55mm f/5.6 kit lens. I spent around $600.
Here are a few raw shots
A few months later I bought a new lens: the 50mm f/1.8
This lens introduced me more to the technical side of photography. I looked into portraiture because I started to understand more about aperture, bokeh and compositional elements.
A year later I realised a wider angle lens suited my photography interests better. I loved taking wide-open landscape shots at the beach, and creating a better sense of place in my images.
A birthday gift that year was the Canon EF-S 10-18 mm f/5.6 ($200)
here are some raw photos
A few months into photography and the original kit lens for my Canon Rebel T5i drowned in an unfortunate canoe expedition! By this time I mostly used the 10-18mm anyway, so it wasn’t a huge loss.
For me, the 10-18mm and 50mm were a practical combination. It was the perfect focal-length range to use for a variety of circumstances. I used the wider lens for landscapes and the prime lens to get up close in detail.
During this time I followed a bunch of photographers on Instagram to see what they were using to get the final results they posted on their feed. Most of them used a Canon 5d Mark iii with a 24-70 f/2.8 lens. This gear setup cost over $2,500 at the time and was far off my budget.
Summer was approaching and with it, a family trip to the Azores! This was my chance, I thought, to take my photography to the next level. I couldn’t afford the lens along with the camera body, so I opted for the Canon 6D (used- $950.) I didn’t realize beforehand that my wide angle lens couldn’t be mounted on a full-frame camera.
The summer of 2017 I bought the Canon 6D and attached the nifty 50 lens to the Azores with me.
2017 Azores summer (Canon 6D, 50mm f/1.8)
To this day I still use this same exact setup.
My most recent purchase was the Yongnuo 35mm f/2.0 lens ($90) which, for me, is a preferable focal length for on-the-go travel photography. I brought this combo with me to the Azores, South America, and New England. It’s perfect for what I like to do.
Canon 6D & Yongnuo 35mm f/2.0
What I’ve learned in the past four years
In total I’ve spent somewhere around $1,900 dollars on photography gear these past four years. Considering how expensive equipment is, let alone new equipment, that price isn’t bad.
The truth is, after everything, I didn’t need to spend that much money. I wanted to.
If you’re just getting into photography, you don’t need to make a huge purchase right off the bat. Even the Canon Rebel I bought was steep to begin with.
I easily could’ve found a cheaper camera, in fact my nana gave me her old point-and-shoot that she had stored away in a closet. It introduced me to film and the fact that I can make meaningful images with whatever you put in my hands.
That’s the moral here. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, or any at all to get your first camera. There’s a good chance someone in your family has one tucked away in their closet. If not, theres plenty of affordable cameras online.
Do your due research, but don’t feel pressured into spending a month’s pay check. There’s actually a lot of influential photographers on Youtube that talk about this same thing: Gear doesn’t matter, practice does.
With the camera you have, go out and take photos. Practice until you like the images you make. Practice until you get a firm understanding about how your camera works. Practice until you think to yourself, “how could’ve I made this photo better?” Naturally, the creative direction you choose to pursue will be clearer. At a certain point, you’ll know what you’re interested in photographing and what setup best supports that.
Even when you feel the only way to get better is to buy a new, expensive camera keep practicing with what you have.
With that said, buying a camera is an important investment in yourself. It means you want to pursue creativity and grow as a photographer. However, that shouldn’t be confused with thinking,
“the more money I spend the better my photos will be.”
That statement couldn’t be further from the truth.
When you’re ready, make the investment. But not a moment before.
As a photographer the quality of your images is not defined by low aperture lenses or a high number of megapixels.
As a photographer your unique vision and perspective, your experience and technique is what creates better, more meaningful photos.
Don’t forget that.
Hey guys, If you have any questions about this article, camera equipment or photography in general, please let me know in the comments below!
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