Shot on Canon 40D and Kit Lens

Shot on Canon 40D and Kit Lens

Here’s a jab to the photography industry, but I’m a firm believer in making art with what you have. I grew up not so privileged and watched my mom cook anything under God’s great sky with limited kitchen tools. My mom did not have the gourmet kitchen of your dreams. She has the refugee kitchen, things handed down to us and things found at second hand stores…because, well…we were refugees who struggled!

There’s nothing to be ashamed of, only many things to be proud of. My mom (and everyone thinks this about their own) is an angel who made it work with limited resources. She is hands down the best chef in the family. She’s that good with her recipes. Here’s one for you (file this now) 

Basic Ingredients + A lot of heart + finding new ways to work with what you had - Making excuses = damn good food!

Lets take that back into photography. You have a kit lens and a mediocre camera but don’t feel that you’ll be great until your collection boasts the industry’s best? Congratulate yourself, because YOU are the perfect target for the advertising industry. You are! Accept that. Once you accept this truth, keep reading...

People won’t hire you for the gear. They can buy/rent the same. You don’t just push a button. People don’t pay you to have a simple lighting set-up, because they can mimic a diagram from the web. They pay for your vision and your instincts. Remember that.

Have faith in that statement. They’re paying for YOU. Once you believe that, they’ll believe your an artist that’s unmatched and cannot be duplicated. Does that not sound amazing? When you realize the client is paying for YOU, suddenly the need for brand new equipment fades. Freedom! 

Sharpness in a photograph comes with skill. Yes an expensive lens will help with that and create an even better image but that’s only true if you can master the basic equipment first. Sure an expensive bounce will help catch that light with less effort but it’s not the only way. You can buy boards from your local drug store and position the model to create the same light. A super nice tripod that costs several hundred dollars looks amazing with your kit, but suck it up and learn to take a still photograph without moving or breathing, or substitute it with something around the house.


Need strobes? Go to Home depot and purchase some backyard construction lights, then adjust the color temperature on your camera. Be better at your skills before investing in the skills of better tools. Need a good filter for the light? No you don’t. Get some cookie sheets to diffuse and adjust your shot, so that it works. Anything you can want in a camera store, you can make with a little bit of thought. I’ve done it.

Stop wasting your money. You’re good enough and you’re only going to get better with practice. When I started with photography it was down to my last few dollars and final credit card. I made it work because there was no other choice. I used foil, saran wrap, rubber bands, duct tape, flash lights, and the sun. I used the hell out of the sun but it was free, it was always there and gave the best light. I was forced to grow. I had one Canon 40D, one awful kit lens, 2 batteries, one charger, and 2 4 GB memory cards. All my gear was in my old school backpack. But you know what I had? I had great skill in using the sun for what I needed, and using ambient light to create good images. That forced me to tap into my camera and think “Shoot! This damn place has only candle light…how can I counter that with my camera settings?” - and I made it work. It never worked the first time, but after several adjustments the images were great. Puzzle after puzzle makes a great artist, remember that.

Having the newest and most expensive equipment means photographs will get better, but to a certain extent. Putting me in a Ferrari means I can probably catch up to the other car quicker, but that’s it. I’m still the same terrible driver. I am. I’ve accepted this by now.

But the only reason why I would catch up to the other car was because of the Ferrari’s capabilities, not mine. After that, I’m limited. You’ll probably take a few better photographs with top of the line equipment, but that rests on the ability of the equipment. Remember, people hire for YOU. They don’t care about your equipment. Invest in yourself. You owe it to yourself to keep learning.