I’m lucky in the way that I really don’t get excited when a new lens or camera is released. I don’t particularly yearn for near gear or want to upgrade every time something new comes out but more importantly I’m lucky in the way that I won’t go and buy new equipment unless I absolutely need it.
I like to think I’m quite prudent when it comes to big photographic purchases, in that I very rarely buy new kit. The only time I can justify a substantial purchase is when either my current item breaks, or it can’t do what I want it to do.
So for instance, up until four years ago I was shooting all of my work on a pair of Canon 60d’s. At the time, a perfectly capable camera for my wedding work and portraits that I was shooting. It wasn’t until a shot a wedding, in winter at Matfen Hall (which is just dark inside) that I realised that I needed to upgrade my camera to a 5diii. Although the 60d performed fairly well in low light, I needed to be able to get up to ISO 8000 without too much detriment to the image quality. So, I went and bought a new camera body. Job done.
With lighting equipment, I started my OFC (off camera flash) journey with Neewer Speedlights after attending a Steve Gerrard Workshop and seeing how a simple one OFC set up can dramatically spice up your images. It wasn’t until I was shooting this wedding at Lumley Castle where the flash power just wasn’t enough, and I was running back and forward to the flash to change the power that I realised that I needed a more substantial portable lighting system. So I went and bought an Elinchrom Quadra set up. This opened huge possibilities for me using not only the 400w of power, but also a very effective modelling lamp. Not the mention the ease at which I could adjust the power from the top of the camera using the remote system.
I see a lot of photographers showing off their latest lens purchase, or new camera body and often wonder- how is it going to improve their work. One of the things I teach anyone who comes to my workshops is that you must master the gear you have, no matter what it is, because one day its all you will have with you. The best lens, best light, best camera you have, is the one you know best.
I remember attending a few Wedding Photography workshops over the years, one where people looked at me funny for using the Nifty Fifty, although I don’t have it now (I dropped it while shooting) this is still one of the best lenses I have ever used. I only upgraded to the 1.4 version because there was an error on the sellers website and I got it £100 cheaper than it should have been. Another wedding workshop I attended I noticed a guy sitting at the top of the table, with two bodies, 6-8 lenses and a load of other gear. He didn’t know how to use any of it, he just thought that’s what he should have. Crazy!!
I think the days of photographic snobbery are finally starting to go away, it really doesn’t make a difference on what gear I have. As long as it does what I need and want it to do!