I don’t know what is the first thing that comes trough your mind when you read “Do your best with what you have!” but I’m thinking about the equipment, space and conditions in general.
Everything would be great if just everything is great. But that’s not the case at all. Nothing is served, in real life or in photography. Saying that, I also have to mention that yes, occasionally God looks at us and give us a perfect moment, a perfect time and a perfect chance. That’s very rare, but it happens. The best shots happen because everything was already set and waited for you to just press the shutter.
My life was full of limitations, lots of and various kinds. I don’t remember if I got anything served in my life. That certainly shaped me. That made me stop making excuses in everything.
I had an Olympus e520 and I used it for years, for those who don’t know it’s a 2x cropped sensor camera an its max ISO without noise was 400 (actually, the noise was visible even at 400 ISO). I could take better photographs with the point and shoot Canon I bought to my brother (just to give you some more sense about what kind of camera that is).
I spent some time wining about it, I couldn’t take photographs I wanted. I was still learning but instead of focusing on what I can do with that camera I was focused to numerous things I can’t do with that camera. I upgraded to a great zoom lens but my camera still wasn’t able to produce what I wanted. I wanted smooth skin, happy children photography, some heavy retouching and photo manipulation, isolation, product photography and food photography. My life at the time directed me to that choices.
I wanted sharp eyes of my children. I wanted better dynamic range of my camera.
I wanted everything my camera and lens weren’t able to produce, but I didn’t blame the camera, I blamed me.
That means that I was learning a lot trying to overcome my equipment and space/places to go limitations. I just wasn’t thinking to embrace that limitations and act accordingly. I had to learn isolatons f.e. try an isolation, if you never did it, you’ll learn a lot.
That isolation above, with scissors was taken in natural light, but because I knew what I was doing it was a very easy shot to take and process in software. I knew what I need because I learned how to do it and what to pay attention on, not because it’s taken with better camera.
Yeah, I’m kind of good with cutting people’s hair. For years I used that bottom right scissors. They’re the cheapest scissors you can find anywhere. I loved them, again, I limited myself to them, until I bought another, professional scissors, those on the upper left.
Sometimes months would pass by before I pick the camera. I wasn’t in the mood for it, it was too difficult. Actually, during this few years since I’m into photography I spent significantly more time without the camera then with one in my hands.
At times I was so discouraged that it came to the point that I simply gave up. I couldn’t use that camera any more and I can’t be in photography because I’m not producing anything decent at all. I haven’t touch the camera for a very long time. I went playing with some graphic design.
The WWW is full of images taken with great expensive cameras but lack of basic elements that make a decent photograph. I was ready to trade anything I learned just for an expensive camera and a decent pixel quality. People don’t notice you if you don’t have an expensive camera and a great lens. People love to give you advises like “raise that ISO” “use flash” “buy this and that” without actually knowing what they’re really talking about. People love to look at you trough the equipment you use.
Real photographers tell you that it doesn’t matter what do you shoot with, but when you’re learning you can’t comprehend that easily. You tend to look just on pixel’s quality, sharpness of the lens etc. If someone have a great camera that means that he/she is a great photographer. If someone calls themselves a photographer, then he/she must be a good photographer.
During the time I hadn’t pick the camera I was thinking about photography in my head. I was observing everything and anything using just my eyes and brain. You don’t have to have a camera in order to learn about photography. Everywhere I went I was looking for shots. In my head. I was thinking about the light, composition, angles, elements, lines, shapes, colors, settings, you name it.
While people were speaking to me I was thinking about the light, their features, their expression, type of bodies, what kind of lens would be the best choice for that given situation, what aperture, what focal length.
Then one day everything seemed to be much easier for my brain to process, but I didn’t have a camera.
I bought 6D when I was ready to justify myself that investment. I restrained myself with the pancake lens.
Restraining, limiting yourself means pushing yourself to do more, to do better.
You don’t own an expensive DSLR, so what!? That’s not an excuse, people take shots, not the camera.
You don’t have a cpl/nd filter but would like to shoot some landscape. Is there any chance you have some sunglasses? I used my husband’s, currently I use a filter that doesn’t fit to my lens. I’m lazy to make few clicks and buy the appropriate one.
You don’t have a tripod. Well you certainly have some chairs, stack them if needed. You’ll find a rock in nature, anything.
You don’t have a reflector. Yes you have a reflector. I use everything that is near me. For the shot of those earplugs in another post, I used the plastic lid of the ice cream box (is that a proper way of saying?).
Your photographs aren’t made out of 16 mp. Well, that’s really something difficult to overcome… Why would you want that amount of pixels in the first place? Do you have a proper computer to handle that?
You don’t own Photoshop. So what, download Gimp. It’s great, it’s free.
You have no one to teach you. Would you believe me if I told you that I’ve never met a real photographer in real life? Never. All I learned was from the internet. Join some forum and let people rip your image. Look trough You Tube, blogs, observe the work of some photographer, analyze his choices…
You can do it. With what you already have.
Basically, I went through the same process, and I believe it is a very regular one for anyone who (want to) progress. You realize than thinking a lot is probably more important than taking a lot of pictures. Good pictures do not come by chance. It is probably the natural result of a mature vision about what you want to picture.
nice and concise Patrick!
nice words… exactly… use what you have not what you desire and great images will result….patience and practice makes a photographer.
yes, lots of people are just seeing what they don’t have and what they can’t do, instead of what they can do with what they already own… well… been there…
What a great essay, what a great ethos. I agree, loudly, with everything you said! We need more of this in the world, and fewer equipment reviews.
Hey Andrew! Nice to see you here!Thanks for your words!
Yes, we need more true photography talking then equipment talking, but, as we are aware, things that matter the most are not usually things that most people pay attention to. Unfortunately!