Some of the most common questions that land in my inbox are:
“What camera should I get as a beginner?”
“What’s a good camera?”
“What camera should I buy to take better photos?”
All great questions, but here's what I want to tell you: buying a camera won’t make you a good photographer.
So here is my advice and take it how you want.
If you’re starting your photography journey today, and you’re asking yourself these questions, my answer is this: check your pocket. In a world filled with smartphones, people often overlook and underestimate the power of those bad boys. I’ve been a photographer / filmmaker for a while. I worked hard to save up for my first camera and have been working to upgrade my gear slowly ever since. Even now, I don’t have a ton, I keep it lean with the essentials I need. I mainly shoot on either the Sony a6300, or the Canon 6D (which my wife mainly uses), and I only have 3 lenses for each camera. Buying an expensive camera doesn't mean you'll take better photos. Trust me. I've shot for brands like Google, Amazon, Starbucks, Target, and many others - using the Sony a6300 and the kit lens! THE. KIT. LENS! People naturally assume I have a $3-$4k camera with an expensive lens. Again, I say, it's not the camera - it's all about the craft, the angles, the lighting, the props even. Learning to get creative with what you have.
However, I want to share with you my wife’s journey on how she started and where she is now because I think most can relate with this. My wife (@amandaciurdar) never thought she’d be a photographer, but dating / marrying one changed that. Naturally we would go on adventures together, and while I would be taking images on my camera, she was taking them alongside me on her phone. She began to notice my intentional composition and emulate it. After a while, she would ask me to use my camera because mine were always more crisp (obviously, I was shooting on the 6D). 😉 Because she learned composition simply while she was using her iPhone, she was able to set up the frame easily with an actual camera. BUT. She had no idea how to adjust the settings and was very overwhelmed. That was her next step. She understood how to set up the shot, but not how to adjust the settings specifically for a shot. I bought my wife her first camera, a Canon t3i, and I coached her along the way. The point here is that she didn’t just jump into buying an expensive camera, she learned the basics with what she had and once she was ready, upgraded her gear. Perfect the tool you have access to and work your way up. Upgrade to gear that makes sense for your needs and wants. Don’t spend a thousand dollars on a macro lens if you’re going to use it twice.
The image above was shot on an iPhone and happens to be one of my top favorite pictures I’ve ever taken, AND one of my top performing pictures on Instagram. I didn’t want to lug my big camera as I was going to be getting in the water, so I just brought my phone with a waterproof case.
It's the person who’s using the camera that matters; the camera is but a tool.
Just to cement my point. A few years ago, I wanted to prove to myself that I didn't need a high-end camera, a bunch of film equipment, and expensive lenses to create something that looked good. I mean, looking back at it now, I cringe at this project, but that’s because I’m my own worst critic, and that’s ok. It only makes me better and know what to do differently on the next project… anyway, tangent. The short film below was shot entirely on an iPhone 5. I shot the whole film while also directing two actors. A good buddy of mine edited it, and another offered some music he composed (know your resources and find a way to network if you don't have any! We ALL have something to offer). After we were done, we decided to submit it to a film competition and we ended up winning first place. We were very excited, especially for creating something shot solely on an iPhone. You can view it below.
So there you have it. Don’t be in a hurry to upgrade, especially if you’re on a budget. Shoot with what you have access to! Take the money you are thinking of dropping on an expensive camera and use it to go on a trip. Travel. Go see the world. Use the camera you currently own, or rent one if you temporarily need a higher-end camera.
I get asked a lot of questions, and that is one of the driving reasons for me wanting to start this blog. If there’s a topic you’d like me to touch on, please comment below - I’ll do my best to answer most questions. Thanks guys, much love! =)
ps - I realize I didn’t actually answer the question to this blog. If you want to have a serious conversation about what camera you’d like to upgrade to - you can either comment below, write me an email, or DM me on instagram, I'd love to chat!
Written by Sam Ciurdar