Developing your photographic style – the necessary photo gear
A constant debate that I see online is whether a specific piece of equipment is justifiable. And whether it is justifiable in terms of a business decision. The discussion typically centers around something like the eternal, “What will the 85mm f1.2 give me that the 85mm f1.8 won’t? And is it worth $1000 more?”
But I feel that in phrasing the question like that, the real effects that equipment choice have on our style are disregarded. I firmly believe that:
Style should always be evolving, borne from our choices and not from our limitations.
And those limitations are quite often our equipment choice. Cameras with higher ISO capability. Faster AF. Faster lenses. More sophisticated lighting.
So does it bring more business? That I can’t say – but I do know that using the very very best equipment does affect how I shoot, and does affect my results. It also directly affects my confidence during a shoot – and therefore during client meetings. I know I can pull it off, no matter what is thrown at me during a shoot. I have the skills and the equipment.
These two images from a wedding in Melbourne, Australia, I was working in the 2500 – 3200 ISO range on my Nikon D4 bodies. Pretty much clean high-ISO images – which is necessary when shooting the romantic portraits.
I could’ve used fast primes instead of going higher on the ISO … but still emphasizes my point that you need proper photo gear when shooting in challenging situations. The lighting here was with a handheld video light that one of the groomsmen held for me, just outside the frame.
Using fast optics and responsive cameras that have a very usable high iso, I’ve able to change the way I use light, compared to earlier years. And in these choices, I’ve been able to bring out images that looks different than it would’ve with other equipment. I like these results much more than what I would’ve been able to get with equipment of lesser spec.
Sometimes the change in specifications and abilities of new photo gear appear incremental, but add all those small increments up … and you will find that current photo gear now allow you to achieve results you weren’t able to before.
The question remains however – does it bring more business? I don’t know if there is a direct correlation. In a sense the question becomes a trivial one for me … because right now, I am doing work I absolutely love, at a level I would never have dreamed of years ago when I started with a Nikon D100. And if using the very best equipment adds to that enjoyment – well, I only have this one life to live.
This leads me to another point. Right now, with an arsenal of fast prime lenses and workhorse f/2.8 zooms, the only limitations in my photography are my own. I certainly can not blame my equipment and say that, “If only I had *that* lens, I could’ve pulled the shots out of the hat.”
Right now, my limitations are my own. And that is a challenging boundary to be at.
How is that for a business decision?
- Wedding photography – Developing a personal style
- When style, technique & choice of gear converge
- Wedding photography – a photo-journalistic style, or more posed?
- Best lenses for wedding photography