Do You Have Enough Gear to be a Professional?
The longer I’ve been a photographer, the more I’ve come to realize that the quality of the camera you own is far less important than how you shoot. The iPhone fashion shoot, now an iconic post on Fstoppers, showed that quality images can be taken without the biggest or latest camera body. While I’ll affirm that shooting professionally shouldn’t be determined by what kind of cameras you have, I think professionalism should be somewhat defined by how many cameras (and lenses) you have.
I was reminded of this very recently when, because of my own carelessness, I had two of my best lenses and one of my primary camera bodies get completely waterlogged. While I’ll save that specific story for a future article, the implications of what happened could have been pretty severe. This time of year is prime wedding season and unfortunately, people won’t reschedule at my convenience. With only a couple of days till my next wedding, I had very limited options to work with. In my locale, there’s no easy renting option. While online renters like BorrowLenses do a fantastic job at getting you the equipment, they are only able to send it out within a certain time frame. I had to work with what was available to me. I had to be prepared to shoot the last wedding without half of my equipment.
While I did not relish the thought of shooting on only one primary body, limited lenses, and a crappy old 40D body as a last resort back up, the wedding went fine. Because my normal wedding day includes two cameras, an old back up body, and a range of several complimentary lenses, I was able to maintain my normal workflow without much interruption. The images I shot may have had a slightly different focal range than my standard wedding, but the quality of images I delivered to my client remained uncompromised.
My point is not to give myself a pat on the back for being somewhat prepared, but rather I want to illustrate how a very realistic situation could either be stressful and potentially devastating or could been no big deal. What if I didn’t have extra lenses to offer a diverse set of images? What if I didn’t have a back up camera at all? As professional photographers, we have a responsibility to be prepared for our clients regardless of circumstance. If something happens to a piece of gear, we need to be ready and have a back up plan. In my opinion, anyone who does not have secondary gear should not be charging for any sort of serious gig.