Do You Have Enough Gear to be a Professional?

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.

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92 Comments

Dave shay's picture

I don't think it's how much gear, but which gear you have. If your lens says 18-55 on it for example, you're out.

Brad Kearns's picture

Honestly I really dont think the kit lens is that bad...not that I want to use it but Its really not that terible. I feel like if you know what you are doing it does not matter at all if you are using the cheapest camera gear you can still produce similar looking images.

I disagree completely. I do not think it's which gear you have, but how you put it to use. Just because you have a Canon 5D Mark III with a 2,000 dollar lens doesn't mean you're going to take better photos than the girl with a Nikon D3200 with a kit lens. It's how you put your gear to use.

More chance/probability of getting a better shot with less effort though! You get what you pay for, simple as.

Yes it does, If both of them are of equal skill level and both have a very creative eye, The one with the better gear will have better shots than the other

Exactly.

Even though they may have the same technical skills, they still have different aesthetic points of view. A perfect exposure photo can be very boring compared to a artistic photo intentionally taken by using a Holga camera.

Tony Guillaro's picture

I think you're missing my point....If they are both 100% equal
Hell the same person- the better gear will win out

I agree with you Brandon!

I am going up to the snow and I am going to invest in a 5d Mk III and ef 16-35mm,,,

NOT because it's better quality, but simply because it's necessary to have weather sealing in this condition I believe...

If my EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM had weather sealing? I'd still rock it on my 7d in the snow!

Kit lenses are GREAT in my honest opinion! Great zoom range, and IS for such a cheap price! I started off on them!

Fact is, unless your doing extreme low light or want that creamy bokeh? then yeah...you're limited by the lens and the bodies AF system. Otherwise? outdoors? or with flash? they're a fantastic tool to use :)

They make 18-55 2.8 lenses which have amazing quality. The new photographer today thinks about gear WAAAYYY too much.

and the reason those 18-55 2.8 lenses exist is because people were shooting on crop sensor bodies. A 18-55 is close to a 24-70 full frame.

But it works on full frame so I can't completely agree with you on that.

18-55 is a dx lens only

Its a dx lens that works on full frame is what I was saying. Oh and that I couldn't agree with him saying thats the reason the lens exist haha

Yes your right you could use a 18-55 on a full frame body. But why would you ? granted a 2.8 is a 2.8. The 1st thing i bought when i got my d600 was a 24 to 70 tamron full frame lens.

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