One of the things we wish most is that we’d had a camera guru in our lives. They'd give us advice, help us choose equipment, and know everything about catching the perfect light.
When you’re serious about the craft, you’ll find a way to practice and put your passion first, even if that means starting with your smartphone as a hobbyist.
By the way—there's nothing wrong with starting small. Advances in technology mean that there are more powerful smartphone cameras in your pocket than ever before in history. After all, our video producer started with an iPad and worked his way up to new gear. It’s more important to have a quality final product vs quality equipment. In other words, if you can get it done cheaper - why not.
We learned the hard way so you don’t have to. There’s no right way to get started, but there are easier ways. Here are 4 rookie mistakes you can dodge while you’re selecting a camera that's right for you:
Rookie Mistake #1: Not Doing Your Research
The Internet is your wild, Wild West. There's so much information out there, and it can be hard to trust your sources. YouTube tutorials, blogs, and experience are the best teachers. Before you waste a bunch of money on gear that won’t accomplish your long-term goals, or jump at the first camera you see,
Seek out mentors and experts who will break down complex ideas as if they were still beginners. Follow your favorites on social media, even the photographers who seem so out of your league. Watch YouTube tutorials like it's your full-time job.
You'll quickly discover your equipment deal-breakers, like:
- Can't live without auto-focus?
- Need a touch-screen?
- Only want to shoot 35mm film?
- Wide-angle or bust?
Rookie Mistake #2: Going Solo
Entrepreneurs love to talk about how they hit big, particularly when they're "self-made." But the reality is this: every photographer or artist has formative influences that play into the work they have created over time. This is called inspiration.
None of us exist in a vacuum; we're all consuming video and photo content like never before. After all, there are over 100 million photos and videos posted on Instagram per day.
Ask others about their experience and their equipment, especially if they shoot similar subjects. Joining a physical or digital community is another great way to connect with like-minded artists and creators. Here are just a few examples:
- Miami Visuals Group
- Meetup - NYC Photographers (see what kinds of Meetups are in your city!)
Rookie Mistake #3: Not Having a Niche
Gear choices are going to vary based on your niche. Without strong ideas of what your content will look like and evoke emotionally, you won’t be able to make logical decisions about equipment.
Some of the core photography niches are:
- Portrait & Lifestyle
- Nature & Street
- Real Estate
- Event Photography
Portrait photography needs entirely different lenses, lighting, and focus compared to a sweeping landscape or nature scene. Wedding photography captures one of the most important days in a person's life, so there isn't a lot of margin for error in getting your focus or your lighting right. Just imagine running out of battery during a wedding! Even nightlife photography requires an entirely different understanding of composition and lighting, especially when capturing the dynamic rage within dark music venues when strobe or laser lights may be going off.
Rookie Mistake #4: Marrying the Camera
Welcome to our crash course—Lenses 101.
First-time camera buyers and early-career photographers might be tempted to buy the most expensive, the newest camera on the market, but it’s actually one of the rookie mistakes you can avoid.
A popular phrase floating around in the photography and video world is, “Date the camera. Marry the lens.”
With the right lens (or lenses!) the entire world can open up to you visually. Your lens also has the ability to outlive a camera. The prevailing advice is to invest less in the body of your camera and invest more in the lens you choose, which impacts image sharpness, aperture and gives you greater control of the shot.
The camera isn't your differentiator; your lens is.
With these rookie mistakes in mind, you'll be able to make better decisions in your search for a digital camera. Now you know what to consider when buying cameras and how to pick the right camera for you.
Ready to take your skills to the next level? Subscribe and be the first to know about our upcoming Content Creation Course, where we'll dive further into gear, framing and composition, shutter speeds, exposure, movement, and much more.