So, you want to take pictures. Fair enough. Already, though, some rude archer is slinging a quiver of questions-as-arrows your way: It’s 2022 – why not just use your phone? Don’t you know that photography is well on its way toward redundancy? Is this just some hipster phase? Are you sure you’re not just trying to ward away the gnawing ennui by buying more things on the internet?
All these are, actually, valid questions. Why don’t you just use your phone? Are you a keen phone photographer already? If so, what about phone photography leaves you wanting more? If you don’t, why not? Is this just so you can look “cool”?
As for photography’s redundancy, well, this one actually isn’t so valid. If film photography survived the arrival of digital (and it did, at least in terms of people USING film cameras and getting film developed), digital photography can survive smartphones.
And so what if this urge to “become a photographer” is in fact just another BUY SOMETHING TO FEEL SOMETHING impulse? We all gotta feel something every now and then, and there are worse ways to go about it than by buying cameras. They can always be resold, after all. Think of all those little bumps of dopamine just waiting for you! Delightful!
So, if you’re still committed, it’s time to take the plunge. The trouble is, you’re not exactly making a whole lot of money, and photography is an absurdly expensive hobby. If you’re anything like me, you resent that. How can a tube with glass in – Newtonian technology we’ve been using for centuries – cost $1000? Where’s the justice?
If you open up B&H’s homepage – a company known for its reasonable prices – you’ll see the latest Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Fuji mirrorless cameras go new from anywhere between $1500 and $3000. Depending on where you live, that’s 2-3 months’ rent (or, if you’re in New York or London or Singapore etc., half a month’s rent). Already, as you scroll forlornly down B&H’s homepage, feeling that spark of hope you’ve allowed yourself to cultivate slowly fade, you’re absorbing two key lessons of succeeding as a poor photographer:
1) don’t buy new, not even from B&H, and
2) don’t buy mirrorless cameras (at least, not any made past around 2014).
There are, of course, other rules, tips, tricks, and practices that will all help you amass good gear and take great pictures. Sharing them is what this blog is all about.
But who am I? Why should you listen to me?
I am a perennial cheapskate. I’m currently a student again but even before that I’ve never earned more than £24k per year (yes, I’m British, pounds are my default currency even now I’m in the US). Now that I’m a student again, I’m even poorer. Nonetheless, thanks to years of trial and error and hard lessons, I own cameras that’re far fancier than I am a photographer, and I paid very little for them. I know the tricks to finding good deals, the traits you must exercise, the resources you must use to inform your purchases, and the cash-cows and “iconic” pieces to either resell or avoid. You must be cunning like the wolf, patient like the humble cow. You must strike as the eBay bid timer ticks toward zero. Om.
Now that I’m well equipped, I’ve decided I can finally share the wisdom I’ve gained through a good few years of research, successes, and failures. Whether you shoot (or want to shoot) film or digital, I can help you out.
OF COURSE, if you’re rich and just stingy, get outta here. Go flitter your cash away on golden toys for your golden house.
The rest of you, come huddle round this invoice-kindled fire and I shall pass on the secrets I’ve gathered.