Bare with me here, because contrary to this next sentence, I promise I’m not writing an angsty 90′s song destined to be a karaoke classic. Really. I promise. So… Lately it seems that I am continually searching for another perspective. Yep, that sounded ludicrous didn’t it? But really, this is going somewhere. I think.
So, here I am, looking for that other perspective, but mostly trying to justify the purchase of a Canon 100mm Macro lens, which most portrait photographers have for one particular shot or another, but cannot find much use for otherwise. Looking for that justification is how I found myself, bicycle head lamp in hand, photographing melting ice on our stove-top one Sunday morning.
I bought one of those macro lenses years ago when the price was something like twice what it is now. It was an investment. An investment in myself and my business. And that lens started paying for itself when what I was primarily photographing were couples and their rings. Now that I am primarily working in commercial work and with teens… err. Let’s say it’s quickly depreciating in value for me. Thus, I’m trying to find a purpose for it. How can I use this lens in a practical but creative way that I haven’t before? A way that is applicable to my business?
When someone asks for photo gear suggestions because they are “just starting out”, I usually give them my dream list of items and what I own. (As is evidenced above, this list is subjective to each photographer and will change as your business changes.) And then, to help them recover from sticker shock, I like to include an affordable but wonderful working alternative.
I know, I know, “buy gear for the photographer you want to be” is kind of like “dress for the job you want to have, not for the one you are in”. It’s an investment intended to help you reach a goal. It’s getting THERE. There being something that feels a little bit like success and fulfillment. That is great advice from business minded people much savvier than me. And you should really listen to those guys and not me. But when your idea of a fancy meal is anything not relegated to the dollar menu, that advice can get discouraging. So here is something that I hope you photographers or artists starting out with next to nothing can use. Use what you’ve got, stretch those tools. Your creativity and worth are not limited to the price tag on your gear.
Watch this video of painter Riusuke Fukahori. Around minute 3:27 he pulls out a broom, dips it in paint and tops off a painting with its crucial and beautiful finalizing element. That painting is not complete without that last detail painted on so skillfully with that broom.. by that artist. And how much do you think that broom costs? Not as much as that man’s time or talent. That’s where your value is found. And while I’m still searching in cubes of ice for that different perspective, a new way to use what I’ve got, I might not be THERE, but I’m moving. Even though what I’m apparently moving toward is some sort of alien landscape.