#PhotoChat May 16, 2013: Picking Your Priorities

#PhotoChat is a Twitter chat I participate in every Thursday at 1:00 p.m. ET sponsored by Prime Social Marketing.  This week, I really enjoyed the questions and discussion that came about from it, and decided to blog the long version of my answers to this week’s questions. The topic was picking your priorities with photography.

Q1: What’s more difficult: selecting your best work or maintaining your creativity?

I think for me, maintaining creativity is more difficult. I am not usually taking photos for anyone but myself, and usually can glance at my photos and figure out which few that I like most and would like to showcase on my website. I also get the moment when shooting where I can see it in my mind and through the lens and know that as long as it’s exposed correctly it’s going to be a great shot, one that I’ll be proud of.

Maintaining creativity, on the other hand, is something I’ve struggled with. I spent a summer being photographically creative, then died out for a year or so, only picking up my camera when someone asked me to take photos for them. They usually ended up lackluster and uninspired because my heart wasn’t in it. I’ve discovered ways of getting myself out of those slumps now, but I would consider it more difficult than selecting my best work.

Q2: What’s a better investment: top-of-the-line gear or a photography degree?

If we’re talking strictly money, top-of-the-line gear is a better investment if you know how to use it. A lot of the information you learn while pursuing a photography degree you can learn through hands-on experience and researching on your own time. However, I do feel that there is value in attaining a photography degree, not only because of the equipment and techniques you will be able to experience (such as access to a darkroom and chemicals, a studio, lighting, etc.), but with the trained guidance and critique from your peers and professors.

Personally, I almost went for a photography degree, but I’m glad I didn’t. I enjoy photography with my research and learning as it is, and I have enough debt from attaining my communication degree. 🙂 I would put my money toward the gear I want, rather than paying off for experience that I could still get from other sources.

Q3: What’s more exciting: a brand new lens or a crazy vintage camera find?

A vintage camera find. I was pretty excited when I bought my first lens that hadn’t come with my camera, which was a 50mm Canon Prime lens, but nothing surpassed my excitement when I purchased my Rolleiflex Automat on eBay. I am sure that if I stumbled upon a Leica or other camera that I want at a flea market or thrift store, for little cost and it works well, I’ll probably never shut up about it.

Q4: What’s more detrimental: an outraged client or a destroyed camera?

I think that a destroyed camera is more detrimental, although it depends on the camera. If it’s a digital DSLR, it’s probably pretty easily replaceable (and might even get upgraded!). But with an old vintage camera, for instance, there’s no guarantee you’d be able to replace it, and upgrading isn’t the point. I have never destroyed a camera, but I can’t even begin to describe the sick feeling in my stomach when a few weeks ago my strap on my Rolleiflex case snapped, the camera dropped and broke the ground glass in the viewfinder. I wanted to cry, wondering if I would even have the money to fix it. It turned out fine in the end, but that feeling is not something I want to experience again. At least with an outraged client, they are thinking and feeling beings and will be able to possibly forgive me, or at the least, not bad-talk me to all of their friends. Talking to them can help rebuild that relationship.

Q5: What’s more versatile: a professional lighting kit or state-of-the-art editing software?

A professional lighting kit is pretty versatile, but top editing software is going to outshine it because of the many things that can be done with it. However, I would prefer the lighting kit, to learn more about light and how to add and subtract it from my photographs. Learning that type of skill in the field is vital, while editing software is something that is not as necessary. Every photograph may need some editing, but they won’t necessarily need to be completely manipulated.

If any of you have answers to these questions, please let me know what you think in the comments! 

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