Upping Your Game

Upping Your Game

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post but quite a few things have happened recently and I figured that this would be a good time to share some of my thoughts and experiences.

The one thing that grabs the attention of all photographers is that of the prospect of new gear. Since Photokina 2018 there has been an explosion of new products and camera models, some good, some not so and some where they have completely dropped the ball… (we all know who “they” are!) While many of us will be lusting after yet another lens, body, gadget or doo-dah in the hope that it will take our photography to another level. However, in all honesty all that we’re doing is acquiring stuff to solve a problem we believe we have.

Maybe it’s time for people to start thinking about upgrading the photographer rather than new gear every year. (Stacey K –

When you have a limited budget (Like I do!) you need to make certain that your purchases are going to give you the best bang for your buck so to speak. There’s no point in buying something that will only get used a few times a year! When it comes to gear what you need is a solid workhorse which is usually not particularly glamorous or shiny. I recall someone saying on a forum that a professional photographer compared his camera to a toothbrush with the statement that “it gets the job done”.

While I have recently upgraded my own gear and moved away from a Panasonic Lumix GX-80 (Micro Four Thirds) to a Nikon D800 (Full Frame) camera along with the significant increase in cost I decided that it was also time that I “upgraded” myself and invest in some training to enhance my skills and try out different shooting styles.

To that end I paid to attend several workshops in studio lighting and portraiture at Richard Bradbury’s studio. Now I’m not drinking from the Jason Lanier kool-aid in that when I hear someone say they are a “natural light” photographer I reply with “oh that’s just because they don’t know how to use flash” because if you look at the history of art, all that the artists of the day had to work with was natural light be it sunlight, moonlight or candle light. There’s always been a sun in the sky (except when it’s night!) and it seems like a good thing to use when it’s in the right position. But natural light does have its limitations… and that’s where flash comes in!

Studio lighting was something that I have wanted to learn about for probably some 30+ years but for one reason or another just never found the time to get around to it. I recently set up a small home studio using speedlights and a few modifiers to create something that looks more pleasing to the eye and where the conditions are under my control (unlike live events). I’ve had good results but even after watching countless YouTube videos on lighting I was eager to learn more in an environment where I could see the different approaches that can be taken, and for this reason photography workshops can be ideal.

In addition to workshop training I also took advantage of a recent offer on Facebook and signed up for membership of The Photographer Academy which is run by Mark Cleghorn. I’ve seen a couple of videos by Mark on introduction to studio flash as well as his promo videos for Elinchrom and he comes across as an easy going but very knowledgeable working photographer. I’m looking forward to going through the content and seeing what I can incorporate into my work. I also use Serge Ramelli‘s turorials along with CreativeLive as additional resources because you can never have enough 😉

Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy new gear (providing it does what you really *need* it to) but before you spend a load of cash on some new gear consider setting aside some cash towards investing in something that will have a greater long-term effect on your photography and that is training!