The more serious you get about photography, the more it seems like there’s an endless supply of gear and gadgets you need to make sure you’re getting the photos you want. It starts simply enough, an entry level DSLR and a kit lens. Grab yourself a tripod and you’re pretty much set to start taking some rocking photos. But, you want to be able to start shooting long exposures–you’re going to need a neutral density filter for that.

Superstition Mountains

The sky might not be coming out blue enough and the reflections on the lake you’re trying to photograph, just aren’t working out. Time to invest in a polarizer. Oh, photos not coming out very sharp, despite that awesome tripod you invested in? Maybe you better grab a remote shutter release. And before you know it, your interest in night sky photography means your entry level DSLR just won’t cut it–you’re going to want a full frame to cut through the noise and maximize low-light settings.

If this sounds like you, don’t worry. You’re not alone. A lot of photographers go through this very same procession. It’s only natural that we outgrow our equipment. However, investing in all kinds of gear may not be the best way to improve your photography. I’ve seen some really amazing photos taken with nothing more than a smartphone and I’m sure you have too! How is this possible?

It’s Not About The Gear


I won’t lie to you, sometimes you really will need a nice, full frame camera to get those amazingly sharp night sky shots or to be able to blow your photos up to billboard size. There will come a time and place when certain photographers need expensive equipment. But for most of us, it’s more important we learn to make what equipment we do have available work to accomplish what we need it to do.

But gear is not what this article is about. I’m not going to tell you to spend a small fortune upgrading your kit if you want to be a better photographer. The truth is, I find myself shooting with my old D7000 way more often than I do my D810. So when I tell you it’s not about the gear, trust me.

It’s About The Experience

To Kiss The Sky

The single most helpful thing I ever spent money on was experiences. Not new cameras, not the latest and greatest gadget. Not tangible goods of any kind. Rather, investing in the experience I would be shooting in. Instead of spending $5000 on a new lens I’ve been eyeing, I took that money and booked myself a photography trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. I took the best photos of my life during that trip using the same old gear I’ve been using for several years.

In short, I spent my photography budget on inspiration. Things I knew would excite me and fill me with the desire to actually go out there and attempt to make my own photography rival–or at least be adequate enough–to capture the natural beauty I found there.

Make an effort, financially and physically, to put you and your camera–even if it’s just your smartphone–in front of the things that inspire you and you will start taking better photos. It’s that simple.

Shoot What You Love

Perhaps that saying is becoming a bit of a cliche, but, hey, when something works, it works. Give it a shot for yourself and see where it can take you!

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