A fresh start and choosing new gear

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When I restarted this blog, I was burned out on photography. I started turning elsewhere for creative outlets. I’ve reignited a love for drawing and painting, looking at illustrations and sketchbooks and falling in love with art again.

Photography had stopped being art to me. I wasn’t looking at photographs with an artistic eye as much as wondering what other people want to see. What kind of work are people buying? I mean, I was trying to make a living and it is extremely hard to separate art and business. If staying true to your own vision isn’t working, do you change it?. I would question if I had “taste”—a conversation I’ve had with myself since day one into my career in photography. I always consider taste as that unquantifiable thing that you either have or don’t have and what separates pros from amateurs.

But on the other side of it all, if you hire yourself out as a technician, art and taste get left aside. I never felt confident as a technician because I didn’t have the lights or the gear required. The jobs coming to me weren’t paying my bills but I wanted to treat every job with commercial quality results. That lead to a lot of resentment and anxiety—anxiety that would become paralyzing to where I was just lost on the job. It was a cycle that just kept spinning.

The one place where I felt completely in control was with portrait photography and that’s where we tried steering everything. For whatever reason, we weren’t connecting with our audience/client base. I kept getting inquiries from professionals for non-portrait or non-artistic jobs. I would take them because I had to. There’s no better way to say it than it just wasn’t working. I was building a lot of paralyzing stress and anxiety instead of a business.

Starting my magazine last year allowed me to shoot for myself and enjoy photography again. Bleeding money everywhere, I had to keep taking odd jobs… and what was being requested? More commercial work. I’m showing food photography and I’m being asked to do things that I wasn’t equipped or comfortable doing. I think the assumption was always that if I could do one thing well, I could do it all.

Photography really just lost any appeal. Reading stories about how no one pays for work and seeing people half my age with their carefree photographer lifestyles pushed me further and further away from it all.

I have only shot a handful of things this year, mainly for my good friend with clear expectations and results. Otherwise, the cameras have been inactive. I have fun with Instagram and take shots with my phone, but being back behind the desk as an AD means I see little that wants to be photographed. This was the working lifestyle that initially burned me out with that job to begin with.

This break allowed me to look at other things other than photography and cameras. Like I said previously, I revitalized my love of art and illustration. I have learned tons about food and cooking. I’ve had time to reinvestigate publishing. The end of an article like this makes me feel like I need to wrap everything up in a pretty little package, but I’m still in the thick of it. The point of writing all of this is that I’m thinking about shooting for myself again.

My mom, a fellow photographer, was asking about upgrading her kit as her old camera is broken (one button is slightly stuck) and she suffers with GAS (gear acquisition syndrome). I haven’t looked at new gear in like two years. I read things once in a while but I really have no clue what new cameras are out and which manufacturers are doing what. I’ve wanted a lighter system to take around for a long time, since that Fuji X100 came out. However, so much has come out since then that I am almost overwhelmed by the options out there.

I am considering Olympus and m43 as they’ve lent me their cameras before and I really enjoyed the portability of their system. The IQ was fine at 5×7 or possibly 8×10, but pixel peeping made it difficult to entirely love. I didn’t do a lot of shooting with heavy DOF, either, and I’m afraid coming from full frame, it might be pretty overwhelming. The OMD E-M10 and E-M5 are pretty nifty looking cameras, though, and that Panasonic/Leica glass looks very nice from samples I’ve looked through.

Despite a smaller lens system, Fuji is still high on my list—especially if I choose to keep my old Canon 5D and use this as my pocket/travel camera. An APS-C sensor and Fuji sensor with well-liked lenses makes me feel like it would be a solid choice as I’m used to the APS-C crop. The Fuji X-T10 is sub-$1000 but lenses would definitely push this quite a bit and I don’t know how much I want to buy into another system.

That said, Sony’s A7 mirrorless full frame offers my love for full frame in a smaller package. This is the only one of the three brands I have gotten my hands on, too. It, too, is a neat camera with a lot of dials (we’re in another golden age of outside dials) and the screen/optical viewfinder was nice. I have heard the focusing is rough, though, and the size and quality of Sony lenses just isn’t there for me. It’s pretty far away from discrete.

I thought writing this out might help me decide which system I should go for but honestly, I’m just as confused. Oh well—if you have any thoughts or experience with the systems, let me know what you think. I would love to hear other stories that don’t necessarily get dragged down by super-fine technical details.

 

2 Comments

  • I’m not a photographer but I do post a lot of photos on my blog. I do notice that there’s a lot of platforms online that let you display your work and sell people rights to your photography. There’s still a career in it but it looks like its becoming increasingly difficult to succeed. One of my friends started doing it on his spare time and he works at a photography place full time because of how hard it is to succeed.

    I wish you the best in your career!

    • Thanks for the idea, Sulfen. Some of my friends are selling their photos through stock agencies and I have considered it. It does seem difficult to make it in photography if you’re not shooting weddings or higher-end commercial work these days, but I think it’s just finding where your work is wanted that will make someone successful.

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