Not Upgrading These Items Slowed My Career Progression

I am not a tech head, as you may well know. However, there are some items of equipment that I didn't upgrade that have ended up holding my commercial photography career back.

I have never been one for buying things. I actually own two pairs of jeans, 10 black t shirts, 5 white shirts and enough pairs of pants and socks to last me 7 days. Besides that I own a small car, push bike, mobile phone, and a coffee machine. I seem to have taken this approach to life to my photography too. I am a big fan of having fewer items and making them last until they can't be repaired anymore. Far from a minimalist or any eco push, I just find having fewer items to be less stressful. However, this approach has held my career back several times, and continues to even now. 

Some upgrades don't really help that much. A new camera body, new triggers, or perhaps a new camera bag probably won't help you out all that much. However, as I discuss in this video, there are some items of photographic equipment and computer equipment that can have such a profound impact on your ability to progress as a professional photographer that I have been a fool not to upgrade them sooner. 

What do you wish you had upgraded sooner?

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9 Comments

Brian Knight's picture

Monitor with good AdobeRGB coverage.

Mark Peavy's picture

A backup camera body! I've not had my Nikon fail yet but you never know when it will. Looking at used camera bodies now to get a target of how much to save.

andy wee's picture

oh yeah, having breaking 2 phaseone XF shutters in 72 hours. it has taught me something. if it happens it happens.

Dan Crowther's picture

TLDW; Calibrated monitor, studio/flash lighting instead of speedlights, flexible work area (in his case a warehouse space instead of classic studio), quality tripod, and support team (make up artist, etc)

Benoit Pigeon's picture

I moved to my little 1200sq feet with truck size bay door 13+ years ago. Never saw the need for fancy and impress with a show room. Clients don't care either as far as I can tell. Warehouse are 100% flexible for commercial photography.
Best purchase in recent years have been a couple Siros. I am heavily invested in 1600ws packs that I use all the time but for lighter situations I needed to upgrade my lower ws and portability. I don't need ttl but hypersync works 100% of the time with the dedicated radios and the app. I like super flexible and Siros are extremely versatile. Not cheap but I use them all the time. They complement/replace my Mobil first generation that's now mostly a back up. But after some tests a couple years ago, I figured that the Mobil, not being a high end product, is actually totally hypersync compatible giving me more options if needed and with a max of 1200ws.
Best purchase/upgrade of 2020 is a full rolling tool box for shooting tethered. It has plenty of space for a bunch of accessories that I use to have in a cabinet that is now gone. Didn't rush it, looked for awhile and finally went on sale for less than $300. It's wide and taller than the small models. Little rolling tray it replaces is about to leave the studio... finally.

Jim Huang's picture

I'm 100% agree. Still, the thing about the monitor is that most of our clients (family/wedding) don't view their images on a expensive/well calibrated screen. I have no idea how my image would look like on their end.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

I agree with your statement. When it comes to rgb, it's kind of like a cheap press run. I call the result "color of the day". Same in rgb for images that will never be printed, it becomes the viewer's problem. A print proof is the answer if you want to make sure your image is accurate. Probably 85% or more of my most paying work is actually in cmyk. I use custom profiles that have been prepress accurate and demonstrated their accuracy for thousands of print runs, but brown color in cmyk on a monitor never seem accurate to my eyes. Even if the client does not care about proofing, if I have darker brown on an item I shoot, I will most likely RIP it on my dedicated proofer for myself to make sure all colors are accurate. A good proof is important because it is most likely that there will be deviation if the press operator runs on a budget. The more color inaccurate your file is, the biggest the potential deviation. The thing is, if you don't care and deliver anything color wise, eventually, the client will find out and that could lead to a client loss. This said, you can't get a good separation (cmyk) if your rgb is bad in the first place. That's why if you shoot in studio, you want to make sure your lights are all accurate. If one of them is not or an accessory has a cast, one should find a solution by addressing the problem. Don't use it as much or use it as a fill that won't obviously affect your main light when possible.

andy wee's picture

laptop, doesnt have to be apple. dont just be stuck on apple. think out of the box We creatives do things different. plus, non apple products are USUALLY cheaper except for workstation class.

the best monitor is the one that your client uses. which happens to be iphone. or samsung handphones. there are no other common denominator. the clients WONT prove on ezio, dreamcolor or spectraview. they will most slightly( 95%) view on handphones. hence the best color proofing is iphone/samsung. they are the pay masters.

tripods, get the biggest. gitzo 5 series. it will be your last. anyone noticed that it's always a case of "if only i had a bigger tripod" it never was if only i get a smaller tripod.