I have spent a lot of money on photography. Some of it was well spent, while in others it’s been a complete waste. It’s been easy to make an investment in something, thinking that it was going to better my photography. It’s only been on the long view that I see what has really made the difference. Here are some things that I found were actually money well-spent.
Off-camera TTL Flash Cable
Getting the flash off the camera created a huge difference in my photographs which depended on flash. By purchasing an TTL cable, it has provided a sense of depth to my images as well as provided me the flexibility to bounce the flash off the walls.
Adobe Lightroom transformed how I organize, edit and output my photographs. Though I was proficient with Photoshop, I only used a small percentage of its capability. With Lightroom, I have all the controls and features that I could want or need.
Spending a week dedicated exclusively to photography is one the best gifts that photographers can give themselves. It provides an opportunity to be completely immersed in the practice of making photographs. My workshop with Jay Maisel at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshop was transformative.
Art and Fear
Art and Fear: On the Perils (and Rewards) of Art Making is a book I re-read on a regular basis, has helped provide me a healthy perspective on the role of fear in the creative process. It has helped me be less negative about such feelings and recognize that all artists contend with them. It’s how we work through them that really makes the difference.
Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Printer
The practice of making quality prints of my best work has helped me gain a greater appreciation for my own photographs. Though an image looks good on a computer screen, there is something special about holding a great print of your own pictures in your hand. The Epson Stylus Pro 3880 provides me the means to make wonderful color and black and white prints.
To my own surprise, the purchase of the iPhone and my subsequent use of Instagram marked a new phase in my photography. The freedom to think less about the camera and more about light and composition inspired me to make images that I wouldn’t make with my DSLRs. What I’ve learned has helped how I see and shoot with every camera.
Robert Frank’s The Americans
I have invested in a lot of photography books, but the one that I return to repeatedly is Robert Frank’s The Americans. Though the book has been around for over 50 years, the images are stellar examples of what makes a great photograph. The book continues to inspire and reminds me that even the most ordinary scenes can be the source of exceptional photographs.
50mm f1.8 lens
The Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens was the first lens that came with my first real camera and it was an indispensable tool for learning how to see. Working with a fixed focal length taught me to think about composition. It also provided me the benefit of working under low light.
Domke Camera Bag
I’ve invested in a lot of different camera bags, but the classic Domke shoulder bag was my everyday bag for over two decades. The classic canvas bag aren’t much on bulk and padding, which made it lighter than other bags which accommodated as much gear and made carrying my gear less of a burden. It kept me out in the streets longer than being burdened with a backpack.
Getting away from home whether it was in the states or abroad has always been a great opportunity to practice photography. If I added up the money I had wasted on photographic gear that didn’t really serve me, I could have taken trips to some wonderful destinations. That’s why I think about using my money to create experiences rather than just investing in more gear.