Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What group are you in?

I was reading an interesting article this morning in the latest Shutterbug magazine about the urge to run out and get the newest greatest camera. The article talked about how sometimes the newest high mega pixel camera is in some ways inferior to the older cameras. This got me thinking about how we as photographers buy things. There are really 5 categories of photographer that we have to look at here. Where you fall in these categories doesn't say anything about you as a photographer or a person. I'm not going to bash on you like ken does over at kenrockwell.com . Instead I'm going to try to define who buys what and why, in general terms.

The first category that comes to mind is the professional photographer. This is the person that is shooting all day every day for a living. They don't have another day job. They aren't walking around taking snapshots of what they feel like. They are working hard every day to be faster, more efficient, and more productive. After all this is how you grow the bottom line. These people buy the equipment they need no matter what. They have two or three backups of the same or similar body. Usually backups of their lenses and every other piece of gear that they own. They can't afford to have a piece of equipment fail on them in the field, or studio so they have extra. These people don't think twice about buying two or three D3's. The price gets written off at the end of the year anyway so it really doesn't matter to them. Guys like David Ziser over at Digital Protalk that buy two Canon 5DmarkII's at one time. These are the people that are in this category. Buying this equipment isn't a second thought because their lively hood depends on it.

The second set of photographers buying equipment is what I think of as the aspiring pros. These are the people that may have a day job, but shoot 30+ weddings a year. My good friend Jason Dunaway is just such a photographer. Check out his site here. These are the photographers that will still buy good equipment, but may not shoot for the top of the line stuff. Jason, as well as myself don't really have a need for a Nikon D3 or the 5DmarkII. Would they be nice to have? Sure but we're looking at reality here. We have to balance the cost of what we're buying against what we're making. If we spend more than we bring in, it's not being very responsible business people. We choose the equipment that gets the job done for the least amount possible. Our photography business is second to our full time jobs that actually make us our living, thus it doesn't make sense to overbuy.

Third we have The amateurs. These are people that have more money than they know what to do with, and buy whatever is the latest and greatest. Not trying to stereotype, but usually these are dentists, or doctors, or someone else that makes an equal amount of money... These people buy whatever the latest greatest thing that Canon or Nikon puts out and tells everyone that they "have to have" otherwise they're not a good photographer. Equipment does play a part in the ease of producing an image, but the photographer plays a larger role. There's nothing wrong with this group of people. We should all be so lucky as to have more money than we know what to do with.

Next we have what I call the pure hobbyists. These are the people that take pictures for fun. They don't plan on making any money off of their photos, and they don't try to. They are out just for themselves. These people usually don't buy anything more than they can afford out of their own pockets because that's where the money is coming from. They're not going to be able to write the equipment off as a business expense at the end of the year. These people are more likely to do a lot of research into what they're buying, and search for the best deal possible. They're not concerned with getting it "now" because they're not on a deadline. These are very knowledgeable people about photography, yet they don't want to use it for monetary gain.

This last group of buyers is the group that our workshops are geared towards. These are the people that know they want a DSLR, but don't know why. They know they take better photographs than regular point and shoots but couldn't tell you anything about the settings on the camera. This group of buyers either got their camera as a present, or bought the entry level camera thinking that even it was really too expensive. These people definitely can't write it off at the end of the year, and they aren't going to be out shooting weddings anytime soon. Most of the time these people just want to take good photos of their kids, or friends and family. Congratulations to these people for taking the first step to taking better photographs. Congratulations on your purchase. Now skip down here and read about how to use that beautiful new camera.

Thanks to everyone that reads this blog on a daily basis. If there is anything you want me to write about, or anything that you have a question about don't hesitate to email me, or leave a comment with a suggestion. That's it for now. I'm going to start trying to post on a daily basis so check back often. Jason

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