Lessons from Behind the Lens of a Legendary Wildlife Photographer: In All Honesty, This Is Really Just a Starting Point
That’s So Easy for You to Say
I started with the incredible opportunity to literally try every single piece of Nikon gear made. I not only could hold it in my hands and look through the lens or click the buttons on the body, but more importantly, I could take it out and shoot with it for an extended period—one of the good things about working at a camera store. It’s in shooting with a piece of gear that you see if it fits you and your photography—not looking at specs, not looking around through it in a camera store or on a convention floor, but out making images is where you find that perfect fit.
I am still incredibly fortunate that I can shoot with a piece of gear before I buy it. I’m a Nikon boy, and I have been since the day I began making money from my images. Besides always having the best flash technology, they stood by me and my goals when no one else did, so I am loyal to them. A benefit of being one of their Legends Behind the Lens and a Nikon Professional Services (NPS) member is the ability to try camera gear prior to purchasing it. I never buy anything blindly—I always shoot with it before I buy. You need to do the same thing!
So you’re not a Legend Behind the Lens yet, or a member of NPS or Canon Professional Services (CPS). It doesn’t mean you can’t try before you buy. Renting gear is one of the greatest resources untapped by photographers coming up the ladder. Renting permits you to have the piece of gear in your hands long enough for the “gear worship” to wane enough to see it for what it’s really worth to your photography. There are tricks, though, to making rentals work.
The key is in the timing (there’s that time thing again). You want to rent that particular piece of gear for at least five days, if not longer. Why? First, to get over the “Oh, I have the $%^& in my hands—it’s beautiful” phase. Next, so you have a minimum of two shooting days with it—not shooting your big toe as you sit in your favorite chair, but actually going out and spending serious time shooting with it. Personally, I’ll go out with just that piece of gear and nothing else, forcing my mind to think about how it works in my photography. The goal here is spending quality time with what might be your next big purchase.
There are great options for renting gear, no matter where you are on the planet. I highly recommend LensProToGo.com or the folks at Adorama. They have a great locker of gear, and prices that make it advantageous for you to use renting as a vehicle for finding your next piece of gear and buying the right piece the first time.
Another option many don’t think about is workshops. There are a number of workshops sponsored by Nikon (and Canon) where they put loaner gear in the hands of the workshop participants for use during the workshop. This is a great opportunity for you to try something new, with the help of an instructor if need be. If you’re the gregarious type, you might also make friends at the workshop. Your new friend might just have that piece of gear you want to try out. Finding out that piece of gear you were thinking about buying isn’t right for you after all can pay for the price of the workshop.
I’m repeating myself but it’s so true, photography is a problem solving process. Identify your problem and find the solution, and you will be successful. New gear acquisition is a problem we all face and this is the solution I have turned to over and over again. It has put the best gear in my hands for my photography at the least expense. It will do the same for you.