Should New Photographers Buy Gear Or Lessons?

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We’ve heard this question many times before – Should a new photographer spend his or her hard earned money building up the photographic arsenal, or sign up for more photography lessons instead? Why the dilemma, you ask? Well, we’ve all been there before, just starting out, dreaming of being a professional, earning money doing what we love.

Photographic gear or photographic lessons?

You’ve Decided To Take Up Photography, Now What?

Unless you have a predecessor who is a professional photographer, everybody starts out at the proverbial “square-one”. Photography is an expensive activity, that is a given. And unless you have no intention of earning a living with photography, you’ll never be satisfied with the relatively affordable, pocket-sized compact cameras or camera-phones. Which brings us to the topic at hand – the high cost of photographic equipment.

Cameras are expensive. Lenses and accessories are even more expensive. The more specialised they are, the more expensive they’ll be. And to earn a living with photography, you’re gonna need to purchase them. Of course, if your Uncle Jake or Aunt Emma is a professional photographer, and will gladly lend you their tools of trade, you’re gonna have to purchase one for yourself. Having deep pockets help, but you still have to start on the same “square-one” like the rest of the others.

So What’s On “Square-One”?

You start off with a fixed amount of money, whether through savings of your salary, allowance, or money “invested” by your parents. Let’s call this the “initial capital”. You start looking at the particular model of camera that you like. Maybe they come with a kit-lens, but if they don’t, you’d probably set aside some of your budget to include the purchase of a starter lens. If you still have some balance after that, you’d probably also want to include an electronic flash too. Once you’ve got everything sorted out, and it’s still within your initial capital, you proceed to purchase your new toys… Ahem!… Working tools…

You now have the bare necessity needed to start you off  photography as an activity. Your initial capital is now depleted (or nearly depleted). At this point, you’re probably not ready to earn money selling your photographic skills just yet. So while you take the time to learn how to operate your gear, you’re also saving up for the next capital investment. In the meantime, you can already start taking on simple jobs, like shooting for a corporate or school events. You won’t earn much at this point, but at least you’re slowly rebuilding your depleted coffers.

The moment you earn or save up enough for your next round of capital investment, you’d have reached “Square-Two”. And here’s where the fun (or confusion) really starts…




Then What’s On “Square-Two”?

Needless to say, your budget allocation for this time around will definitely be more than your initial capital. Will you be eyeing for that big, fat wide-angle lens to include everybody in that ever crowded group photo? Or perhaps that sweet telephoto that will bring the elusive red breasted robin into full-frame? Perhaps even a tripod that will keep your camera steady while you arrange the subjects to be captured? You see, there’ll never be a shortage of things to buy when it comes to expanding your photographic reach.

And the kicker here is that this is also where you start thinking about expanding your knowledge and skills in the art of photography too. Learning specialised skills doesn’t come cheap, so some of you may turn to self-help. There are plenty of literature when it comes to photography. Lot’s of books and magazines for your reference, not to mention websites and forums too. But is that really sufficient to guide you on a specialised skill like photography?

Right now, you have even more channels to spend your hard earned money on besides expanding on your tools of trade. And we haven’t even touched on setting up a studio yet. That’s right, studio lights don’t come cheap…

The Perpetual Dilemma

The question that many photographers at that stage most often ask – Do you purchase more equipment, and risk not knowing how to fully utilise them? Or would you prefer to sign up for photographic lessons, so that you can improve your skills?

(1) Hardware Priority School Of Thought

Long Fast Lens

You want to build your comprehensive equipment as soon as possible, so that you have the right tools to be able to accept jobs, thus earning money from photography. You may not have all the necessary skills and experience to do all the jobs properly, but you risk it anyway, hoping that your clients won’t notice.

(2) Skills And Knowledge Priority School Of Thought

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You don’t want to risk spoiling your reputation by accepting jobs that you have no expertise in. You prefer to confidently accept jobs that you’re experienced in, and work around what limited gear that you already have at your disposal.

You’ll notice that there’s no right or wrong answer to that question. Of course, if money is not an issue, then there’ll be no headache. Unfortunately, not many of us are born with silver spoons. So careful budgeting, and deciding where to spend your hard earned money is really crucial at this point.

What If I Tell You There’s A Logical Compromise?

While there’s no instant solution to that perpetual dilemma (unless you bought a winning lottery ticket), there is a possible way to “solve” this “problem”. This “solution” is more of a compromise than anything else, but one that allows you to accumulate knowledge, and still have access to the specialised gear that you might need.

What we suggest is that you go with the latter choice – use your limited funds to buy photographic lessons, not hardware. No, not just any ordinary photographic lessons, but sign up for a tailor-made mentorship programme that caters specifically for you individually.

The advantages are pretty clear here – more knowledge means you’ll have a much clearer vision of your photographic destiny. And you’ll also know exactly what gear you actually need, so less wasted money buying the wrong gear. Most importantly, you also get to loan your mentor’s gear while you’re still brushing up on your skills. And that’s definitely the best of both worlds.

Where Can I Sign Up For Mentorship Lessons?

We’ve actually been offering tailor-made mentorship programme for over a decade already. We’ll go into more details in the next instalment, so make sure you come back for more details.

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