The #1 Mistake New Photographers Make

People make mistakes. It’s how we learn and grow. It’s a part of our history and our future. Photographers make mistakes too. Even great shooters like Chase Jarvis and Joe McNally still make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them so that you try not to make the same mistakes again.

As a new photographer, you’re also going to make mistakes. But don’t worry, you’ll learn from each of them and you’ll be better for it. There is however, one common mistake among new photographers that seems to be repeated over and over again – buying too much gear.

I was talking to a photographer at last weekend’s workshop and she said this a lot, “Someone told me that I needed it.” With all the teasing and good-hearted harassment over those words I think we effectively made our point. I felt bad for her because she had been steered in the wrong direction on many occasions and definitely spent money that she didn’t need to. If memory serves me correctly a salesman at a local camera store managed to sell her a 5-in-1 reflector for $110.00, and that’s just wrong.

New photographers (and even some that aren’t so new) get wrapped around the axle over gear and somehow come up with the idea that they need a lot of it to make great pictures. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – gear doesn’t make pictures, photographers do.

So where exactly does all this bad information come from? It mainly comes from the internet. I can’t tell you how many threads I’ve read where someone was verbally scolding another for using a Sigma or Tamron lens to shoot a wedding that they were getting paid for. There’s something to be said about good glass, but c’mon now.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy gear that you need, but the point I’m trying to make here is that you should invest in yourself as a photographer. Instead of going out and buying that new 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II lens for $2,000.00, you could use a fraction of that money and go out and shoot for the next month! If you’re a people photog, hire some models and a make-up artist and go shoot. If you’re into landscapes, take a short drive to someplace interesting that you’ve never shot before. Just go out and shoot!

As a side note, if you happen to get some advice that you think is questionable or aren’t sure about the best thing you can do is ask another photographer that you can trust. Just because someone says that you need that new flash or new lens, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you do.


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