Which lens?

I got an email from one of my very enthusiastic students asking a whole bunch of questions about what equipment to buy to help her in her pursuit of a professional career as aportrait photographer. Well there’s tons of equipment I could suggest and started down that road with her until I got a second email asking whether she should buy “A” over “B”. My recommendation was to wait.

Why wait? Because I don’t know what she really needs beyond more practice and some successes. And all of us can realize these goals regardless of the camera, lens or other assorted equipment. It’s my experience that most of us, and I’ll include myself here, rarely exceed the capabilities of our equipment regardless of how humble.

I used to start my basic classes by holding up three black and white images. Most agreed that they were pretty good photos. Then I sprung the trap: They were all taken by an artist in London, England who uses a basic pin-hole camera.

Sally Mann, the iconic Tennessee photographer who was called the best photographer working in the USA uses big view cameras and technology that dates back to the American Civil War.

So my point is until you know the difference between “A” and “B” get out and shoot with what you’ve got until you do know the difference. And if you really have to buy something for yourself may I suggest a fixed 35mm or 50mm f/1.8 lens and (figuratively) weld it onto your camera. The simpler the better like a Nikon D40 (the Nikon 50mm won’t autofocus with a D40 but the 35mm will as will many third party 50mm lenses). Consider a Canon basic Rebel and shoot with this combo for the next three or four months. Buy a decent tripod as well. You will become a much better photographer as a result.

And oh yes come take a course from us at http://www.cameratraining.ca during December. You’ll enjoy every minute and you’ll leave with the ability to take radically better images regardless of your equipment or experience.

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