YOU DON'T NEED MONEY. YOU DON'T NEED LA OR NY. YOU NEED VISION.
I get many messages in my Instagram DM, through this website and my youtube channel. The bulk of messages pertain to not having enough money, access, or equipment. I'm tired of that! When I started, I didn't have sh*t. I didn't have a celebrity connection. I didn't have money, and in fact I had less money than you would imagine. And do you know what? I made it. YOU WILL MAKE IT ALSO! That's why I made this video, created this shoot and I hope that it inspires you. If it does, take a moment to share it on one of your social platforms.
Lets get to the actual shoot now. I photographed Todd Maurer who will be a part of an upcoming TV series. He's an LA actor, scored a great gig on an upcoming TV show and he wanted new promo images. Below I'm going to list a few stereotypical statements and then I'll respond to each. See how many of them you relate to!
I am not in LA or NY. We don't have models here.
You're not in LA or NY? GOOD FOR YOU! That means you're not paying a fortune for a crappy small apartment. Aside from that, you probably meant that you don't have access to great models and actors in your town. You mean that everyone great looking leave for the bright lights of tinsel town.
Well that's false. You may not have modeling agencies nearby but you have people who come through town to visit family. Maybe you can catch them during those summer months, the Christmas holiday break? Your town has some, you have to look. What about the people who may leave town in a couple of years, the high school drama students? Can you go to a local college and ask their performer students to model for you? What if you look on Model Mayhem? You'll find people in your town or very close. They are usually models, retouchers, makeup/hair stylists, and photographers looking for talent. Find them! Make an arrangement with them, either pay a fee or trade them for images. It's a barter where everyone wins.
That's easy of me to say, right? I'm Mr. LA and I have all this access so it's easy for me to talk? Well guess what? I found Todd on Model Mayhem. Yeah, I'm not going to preach something and then do something else. 90% of the time I book from model agencies out of Los Angeles, but for this one I found him on Model Mayhem. Proof that you can still find great talent out there if you look. In fairness, he now has a great agent but his model mayhem profile was still available. I sent him a message and he responded back. We set up a date, and you have this shoot.
My camera is old and I am waiting to buy a better one.
Oh Is it? You're still going to do just fine! The camera that I photographed Todd with on this shoot was an old Canon 7D. It was my "backup" camera and lately has taken the front seat because of my 5D still being in the shop. And by "being in the shop", I mean I'll take it in sooner or later when there's some free time. Anyhow, my crop sensor 7D first generation was plenty good for this shoot. In fact, I'd say that with the right lighting even your smartphone camera is good enough! Lighting is everything, then vision, then lens, then body of the camera.
Still not convinced? Have you considered borrowing or renting a camera? Look into that from your local camera stores! There are many camera rental websites but I would love to see you support the local camera stores in your area. Go in there and say hello. Get to know them. You'll make a friend with commonalities and they'll likely be a huge inspiration for you. SHOP LOCAL if you can.
Photography lights cost a lot of money! I don't have money.
Trust me, I know. It's awful but good thing we all get access to the best light in the world and it's free. Use the sun! By the way, I should note that all lights are based after the sun. Why not use the original? Each season the sun provides a uniquely different light, get to know it. In fact, don't buy a light just yet. Let me say that again, DO NOT BUY A STUDIO LIGHT UNTIL YOU MASTER THE SUN.
Some of my best images came from 100% sunlight. These are album covers, magazine editorials and so much more. The sun is beautiful and most don't understand how lovely the light is. For this shoot with Todd, I used the sun. I didn't use a bounce or reflector. I did not use any sort of strobe. It was pure sunlight and it created some incredible images THAT WERE PUBLISHED! You have the sun. I have the sun. USE IT! Understand the difference between morning light, evening light, golden hour light, and afternoon sunlight that's overhead. By the way, I also did another sunlight shoot. The difference is that the model was female and we used bounce, but it was otherwise all sunlight. Check that out here.
Feel like you still have excuses? You don't! Lets keep going through the list regardless.
Then I have to book a photography studio. I don't have money for that.
No you don't! Who made you believe that?! You don't need anything but a little space that the sun shine reaches. We photographed Todd on the beach, the public beach that cost us absolutely nothing. Do you live near a lake, desert, valley, hill, ocean, city, or meadow? The answer is YES. You have access to great backdrops. When you see the images below you'll notice that much of it was just Todd, the subject. Once In a while I focused on the sky (and you can do that anywhere) or the ocean waves behind him. Replace the waves with a field or alley. You can get fantastic photographs anywhere, if you learn to use the sun...even with a crappy old camera.
The photography industry (actually all industries) like to make us feel incapable without the latest and greatest. Advertising is psychology and not because they're evil. They just need to make the bottom-line and be a profitable company. That's why cameras release new versions every year with only a few upgrades. For the photographers that fall prey to LATEST AND GREATEST, it's always going to be an unhappy path. Be content with who you are and what you have.
You can do this! You can create incredible images if you get out of your own way. You've got this and if you've read this far down the article, you have the drive to get this done. GO DO IT! I'm cheering you on!
I said it at the start of this article and I'll say it again. You don't need money. You don't need Los Angeles. You don't need New York. You just need vision.