Photography can be done on many different financial levels. There will always be those who spend more money on equipment than others. There will always be those who have more time to devote to photography than others. And, there will always be those who use what they have available to get the best possible experience out of it.
Although it is often said that the eye behind the camera is the most important part of capturing an image, it cannot be denied that the right tools are also needed. If someone wants to take photos of wild birds in flight, a 35mm lens will definitely not do the job as well as a telephoto lens will. When the equipment is limiting what the photographer can capture than there are only three solutions.
Save to buy, borrow or steal the gear you think you need
Change what you’re photographing to match the limits of your gear
Find ways around the limitations.
This last one might not be easy, but along the way you may just find some wonderful and creative ways to make your vision come to life.
In 2011 a movie called The Big Year was released. It was a comedy about three rival birders, each trying to see as many species of birds in the American Birding Association North American region as possible in one year’s time. What most birders knew, and what most movie goers didn’t, was that the movie was based on a book. And more importantly, the book was based in reality. In 1998 three men did set out to break the record and each set out with different amounts of time, resources and knowledge.
The “underdog” Greg Miller, played by Jack Black (Miller’s name along with other actual persons portrayed in the movie, had been changed to something fictional) financed his Big Year with credit cards and loans from his family. He also maintained a full time job, sometimes putting in 60 hour work weeks in four days before setting off on a three or four day weekend to achieve his goal. All while his two rivals, successful business men both, had nearly unlimited funds and time to pursue the same goal.
Yet even Miller’s story of making do with what he had and borrowing to supplement it pales compared to the birder who inspired him. In 1973 an 18 year old kid named Kenn Kaufman, using an inexpensive pair of binoculars, did a big year by hitchhiking around the country and sleeping outside with a sleeping bag and tarp. The ultimate test of making do with what you have to create your vision.
As I thought about what I wanted to do with photography a paraphrased line from Kaufman’s book, Kingbird Highway, floated into my mind. “You have to make the effort to have the luck, and if effort contributed to luck, then a hard to reach goal would provide the incentive for making a great effort.”
Although I have no plans to hitchhike across country, I do plan on using the equipment I have to the best of it’s and my abilities.