The $4,000 Photography Lesson That Taught Me a Lot About life
A Costly Lesson but a Pivotal one
About a year ago, I found Pete Mckinnon on Youtube. If you don’t know who he is, he is a famous photographer/videographer that publishes a mix of vlogs and video tutorials about photography/videography.
I, ( like many others I assume ) was very inspired by his work and binged a couple of his videos. Around the 50th video mark, was when I put my phone down and told myself to give photography a serious try.
I tried photography when I was in high school and it just never really stuck to me then. Maybe this time would be different.
Armed with the growth mindset and other productivity techniques out there. I was confident that I would be able to take epic photos like Pete Mckinnon. It’s going to be a lot of work but nothing worth pursuing is easy.
So swept up in the excitement, I decided to make a list of things I needed. This is where I made my first and most costly mistake.
I didn’t need to buy a camera because my dad’s old camera was pretty good and I was trying to save money. It had a decent lens attached to it too. So all I needed was a couple more things.
Or so I thought.
The list and my thought process behind it went something like this.
- Okay, Pete mentioned that it is best to cover all the ranges. So, I need 4 more lenses (Macro, 100–200mm lens, 50mm lens, and a 15–25mm lens )
- Love those long exposure shots, so I need a tripod
- I’ll be taking photos out in the sun a lot, so I need some lens filters (ah seems like the best ones are the ones by Pete )
- I should get more batteries for the camera, just in case
- Well, since I’ll be taking a lot of photos, I also need more memory cards
- I want a quick-release strap and a hand strap for quick captures
- Oh, I need to buy a bunch of online courses cause I need to know how to use all this stuff.
- Well, I also need to learn how to edit photos, so I should buy some courses around that too
- If I take videos, I want my audience to hear me well, so I need a microphone
- I don’t want shaky video, so I need a gimbal too
- If it rains, I need to protect my camera, so I need a rain cover for the camera and all the lenses too.
- Well, now I need a bag for all of this stuff.
In the then following weeks, I bought all of the equipment and courses. Because of the pandemic, I also watched all the courses too.
Now, as you can tell, the biggest red flag of all of this is …..
I haven’t actually gone out and taken pictures/videos yet.
About a couple of weeks later, COVID eased up a little bit in Australia and I finally found a chance to go out and use all of this equipment.
My girlfriend and I drove out to this small Lavender field to take some photos.
I finally had my moment to apply all of this newfound knowledge and use all of this new gear.
It was terrible.
I would take a picture, hate it, adjust some settings, hate it, adjust some more,…. I kept switching between different lenses and filters. I kept worrying about using the “right” equipment for the photos.
The worst part, I hated every part of it. It was hot, I was carrying all the heavy equipment whilst trying to take photos. I still remember the relief I felt when I came home and how tired I was from doing all of it.
I didn’t even get a single photo that I was happy with. I was too busy worrying about the equipment.
After a few days of sulking and being depressed about the fact that I just wasted $4,000 and that I will probably never take great photos. I came to the realization that this was how I always approached everything in life.
I looked back at every time I wanted to try something new and my first instinct was always “what can I buy get ahead of it all”. I would then proceed to buy everything related, used it once, hate it, and then never use it again because it was too hard to do the real thing.
and that itself was the lesson.
The $4,000 taught me more about myself, that I always took the easy way out by buying things to feel good. Buying things is easy, it also makes us feel like we are progressing towards the goal but in reality, we might just be holding ourselves back even more.
I mean, a few weeks ago, I went out on a photoshoot again and only brought one lens with me. I enjoyed the experience of doing it, I had fun, I still didn’t have any photos I liked but I at least enjoyed doing all of it.
I am honestly shocked by how long it took me to realize this. I guess all my new learning adventures were just never as costly as photography.
So, if there is one lesson to be learned from all of this, it would be to just get the essentials and start learning and practicing.
Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot of value in having equipment but that value only comes when you know how to use it. There is no point in preparing for a problem that doesn’t yet exist.
So take it from me and just buy what you think is essential and start learning. Don’t think that buying more things will mean you get to where you need to go faster.
Thanks for reading. I have now got to go and sell some equipment online now.