One of the most common questions I get when people hear that I am a photography instructor is “What should I get?”. What size soft box should I get? What lens should I get? Should I get a speedlight? However, there is no easy answer to these questions. In fact, deciding “what you should get” can be a very involved question.
For many photographers, and in particular new photographers, this can be a very difficult question to answer. If a person says that they want to photograph landscapes, then my answer will be quite different that if they say they want to photograph bugs. So I have to ask the question “what do you photograph?” Most of the time the response is “what ever”, they just want to have gear for everyday use, not anything specific. This is a problem, because, if you want to get better at anything, you have to be very specific about what you want to get better at. This means being very intentional about your photography.
I belong to a camera club, The North Shore Photographic Society, and I love attending the print nights. This is when the members bring actual prints of their work (not digital files) to be viewed and critiqued by other photographers. Members are at various levels and it is interesting to see who is photographing what. The photographers that are just starting out submit images that are all over the map. The same person could submit images ranging from landscapes to portraits. The accomplished photographers, many of them quite outstanding, tend to submit images of a similar type. There are some who submit only portraits, some who submit only birds, some who only submit landscapes, etc. While the goal of all the photographers is the same, to get better at photography, the more advanced photographers have discovered that to get better, they needed to become very intentional in their practice of photography. This is not to say that they are not capable of photographing other subjects, quite the opposite in fact, but to get better, they need to focus on their one area of photography.
So, when someone asks me “what should I get”, I tell that the most important thing to get is intensional about your photography. Once your are intentional about it, then the tools you need will become obvious.