Technology is a good thing. I’ve been in the IT industry for years. I know it well.But by far the biggest problem is: people rely on it too much.

Instead of developing their skill, creativity and resourcefulness, people drop back on technology or blame it when they don’t get the results they want. I don’t even go onto camera forums much anymore. All you hear is ‘it’s not good enough’. Well, people have been doing great photography long before digital. What’s your excuse? Yes, the complaining usually stops once I or someone else says something along those lines.

My Panasonic G9 fresh out of the box last year with my 3-year old Leica Nocticron. A fantastic combination!

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Gear is so damn good these days. And relatively inexpensive.

Even in the last 5 years, photographic technology has taken huge leaps. Mirrorless? Micro four thirds (m43)? Lighting technologies especially. While my Panasonic Lumix G9 is both mirrorless and m43, lighting technologies have been a particular welcome upgrade. I remember what a headache it was to get what I wanted. I think in the last two to 3 years, the support for Panasonic Lumix cameras finally got some cred and now have the support I want for the system. 

This combination that you see here you can get for about $2600 and is 110% good enough for fashion, portraiture and just about anything else barring the very specialized types of photography like astro photography. The brand new Sony A7R4 is $600 and that's without a lens. Though the Sigma ART 85mm f/1.4 is $1100. $500 cheaper than the Nocticron on my G9 which makes it $1700 more. And really, I don't think the price difference is worth the performance boost. Most people wouldn't notice and those that do, like me, would rather spend the money on another lens or camera body.

Some of my most favorite and best shoots have been ones with the least amount of gear involved. Many times, just one light. If that. Here we go:

Photographed with my Canon 5D MKII and Zeiss 50mm f/1.4.

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For our shots in the shade, I was using a speedlight and 3’ octobox. But we came upon this staircase and I decided to do this shoot without any external lighting. It totally worked. The sunlight was brutal but the in b/w and sharp shadows, it really emphasized Brooke, the model. I think it’s quite striking.

Shot with my Panasonic GX8 and Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2.

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Tashi. Absolutely one of my favorite shoots. While I used two lights for the shoot, they were stacked on top of each other to make one, tall light. I directed Tashi here and there but she just went with it. One of the most amazing shoots. Super simple an amazing.

Shot with my Canon 50D and a rented Zeiss 35mm f/1.4.

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Maybe one of my best examples of ‘no extras’. My first portrait shoot. Ever. It was just me, the camera and a friend. It had rained overnight and the sky was very overcast. That little catch-light you see in her eyes? That’s a tiny opening in cloud cover! But the light on her is superb.

I used my first DSLR for this shoot which was a Canon 50D APS-C. Which was released in 2008. I took this pic in 2011. So the camera wasn't that old when I bought it. But compared to what we have now, it's ancient. I didn't use AF as it was so horrible. 15MP. Though, I loved using it. It just felt right. That might be the most important thing when choosing a camera. When you are enjoying your work, it shows in the pics.

I totally screwed up with the lens though. I rented a Zeiss 35mm f/1.4. Which for portraiture, is quite bad. However on the APS-C sensor, it's more of a 50mm giving it a more natural look. I eventually got a Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 lens which I would use 99% for my work and would occasionally rent the 85mm f/1.4. Put a fantastic lens on a mediocre camera body and images are transformed.

Before you say "You see, better gear does make a difference!". Sure it does. But my statement is more about upgrading from a cheap kit lens to something that's "pretty good". I just did a look on eBay. You can get a Canon 50D and Zeiss 50mm for together for about $400 and it would be PLENTY good enough to get published. Easily.

So no. You don't need the latest and greatest to get a great shot.  Like I said in the beginning, great gear gives you options, speed and dependability. 

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice!

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