Thriving as a Photographer with Minimal Resources
My very first camera was a fairly antique phone with almost no capabilities. The photographers whom I revered had the most exquisitely mesmerizing images I had ever seen; since my own artistic style was yet to be discovered, my greatest desire was to replicate those images. While researching, nothing but unattainable camera brands and lenses accumulated in front of me – it seemed that unaffordable equipment was the only door to creativity. However, being stubborn, I refused to be intimidated by numbers and chose to focus on my ever-growing passion instead. (In cases like these, as you can see, ignorance is bliss.)
A special project taught me most of what I know about using limited resources. The 365 project challenges photographers to take photos every day for a year; this was my creative shortcut. I know, daily photo-taking and the word shortcut don’t seem to go hand in hand but secretly, they do. Photographing every day, as opposed to once a month, compels the photographer to look at day-to-day events from a fresh perspective. You don’t have to be an avid traveler or the owner of a large estate with an abundance of locations to choose from; there are treasures in every home – treasures we often take for granted – which would make the most breathtaking images if we took the time to truly look at them.
Thus began my love for not only photography, but the spaces in-between successful shots, the silent moments overflowing with failure and impatience. Though these experiences are discouragingly frustrating, they’re a crucial part of the growing process. They provide us with tougher skin and a clearer idea of what we want as artists.
The prices of cameras vary depending on their sensors and their output resolutions; though a bigger sensor and more megapixels inevitably increase the quality of an image, they don’t control the composition, lighting and colours. These three elements depend on the photographer. Whether you have an abundance of resources or a simple phone, you can make something profound with those three elements.
While working on the project, I encountered many busy days which seemed to block my inner artist from creating anything of value. There were days when I felt like a failure, when all I could come up with was a simple photo of a book, a tree, or raindrops on a window. However, upon taking a photo of one of those subjects, I’d naturally think of quick ways to enhance them. Thus, I learned the beautiful art of post-processing, a skill which has had a tremendous impact on my current job (and which can have one on yours, too). There’s a myriad of things you could do in any editing program to make your images stand out and fit your style. Consider portrait photography – there are thousands of portraits photos being taken every day, yet many of them cease to be dull or repetitive. Sometimes, all it takes to make an outstanding image is to replace a few colours, gently add contrast, and sharpen the image. All of that, however, depends on your taste. Thus, being familiar with a variety editing programs will enrich your workflow and give you even more opportunities, no matter how many megapixels your camera has.
Though I used the 365 project as an example, it doesn’t mean the only way you’ll thrive is by taking photos every day. If day-to-day projects don’t appeal to you, experiment with whatever does; spend a few hours once a week finding potential in locations and items in your home, find an empty space in your room and turn it into a miniature studio, look out your window and see if it would make for a nice double exposure resource, use a sheet of paper as a reflector, and the list of possibilities goes on, and on. There’s potential in everything – your job, dear reader, is to find that potential and to photograph it with whatever it is that you own.
When I finished my 365 project, I noticed a dramatic change in my style, vision, and appreciation of the world. Had I not chosen to commit to the seemingly frightening challenge of finding creativity every day, I would’ve had less initiative, less patience, and less curiosity. Most importantly, I wouldn’t have realized that seemingly frightening challenges are not so frightening after all.
The more I shot, the more value I found in perseverance and the less I focused on the amount of resources I owned. When I upgraded to a better camera – one that contained a mere 5 megapixels but meant the world to me – I was enthralled by the plethora of creative ideas waiting for me. You can imagine my joy when, several years later, I obtained a professional camera. Thanks to my seemingly insignificant pieces of equipment, I learned to respect artistic patience and make the most of every single detail I noticed, so much so that even a small camera upgrade opened more creative doors for me than fear or comparison ever could. Seek those creative doors and use them endlessly, no matter how many resources you own, and you’ll find yourself thriving in the most wonderful, wonderful way.