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Photographer with consumer gear

Discussion in 'Making Money' started by dengar, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. I have mixed feelings on this so let me tell you the story. This past weekend I had a family shoot for myself, my wife and my 2 kids. The photographer was a very nice lady who we met at my daughter's daycare (she takes all the kids pics there). We met at the beach for a sunrise shoot. She gets out of the car with her assistant (husband or BF I think) and their gear. The first thing I noticed was her gear, a D3000 with kit lens. Now I did give her the benefit of the doubt and went through the entire shoot. She did show good technique and had good control of the lighting as the sun was coming up so I was happy there. All in all the shoot went very well, but that little voice in the back of my head kept asking any did she not use any pro gear? Maybe she's using her lower end gear since its the beach/saltwater I dont know. Im paying for the shoot so part of me is expecting the highest quality possible. Am I wrong here?
  2. What did the pictures look like?
  3. Julien


    Jul 28, 2006
    Paris, France
    You're paying for her photos, not her gear right? And does better gear de facto means better photos? :smile:

    When I look back at the photos I shot when I first started what strikes me more isn't their technical aspect (virtually anyone can take a well exposed sharp photo), but that I was a lousy photographer and that they were just not well composed and thought out. See what I mean? :wink:

  4. I've taken volumes of images with a D-50/kit lens that I'm very proud of.
    My pro gear simply gets me fps and reach @f/2.8 (D3/400 VR) for field sports.
  5. if the images are what you want then equipment is not important

    going out for a meal, do you check the chef's saucepans + knifes,.
  6. Raphy


    Feb 29, 2008
    Canada, eh?
    I wouldn't loose sleep over it. Wait until you see the photos. I always avoid the "gear " conversation especially with clients... i sometimes even tape over the NIKON logo on my D700s... I always tell my clients "a ****ty photo with a $20,000 camera is still a ****ty photo" - If the photos turn out how you wanted, then all is good.
  7. We can't pass judgment on this until we know if the photos turned out as you expected. Also, I think the cost of the shooting session is relevant. If she charged you $50 for the session, the camera fits. If she charged you $2,500 for the session, the camera doesn't seem to fit. Did she seem experienced, suggesting posing, etc?

    Also, higher end gear actually works better at the beach, as it's usually sealed (pro quality cameras).
  8. That's what I thought. I don't want to turn this into a "better gear takes better pictures" thread. Im only speaking from a business point of view and the impression one is giving, especially to someone like me who know a bit more than the average person about gear. I havent seen the photos and like I said in the OP, from what I saw she used the light very well and from the quick samples I saw from the back of the camera, they looked good.
  9. Julien


    Jul 28, 2006
    Paris, France
    I don't agree at all. A photographer is free to choose his/her gear as he/she pleases provided the job is (well) done.

    David Guttenfelder from AP used an iPhone for an assignment in Afghanistan, Damon Winter of the NYT won third place for feature picture story (A grunt's life) from Pictures of the Year International with photographs taken on an iPhone app and John Stanmeyer (simply one of the founding members of VII…) used a holga for his photos on Bali, and I'm sure there are tons more examples like that.

    For me, as long as the results are there, the camera hardly matters. That's the beauty of this work, to be free to use the tools that you want to use to tell a story the way you intend to tell it. :smile:

  10. Exactly. By saying the charge vs gear would then also rule out just about anyone shooting with a Nikon film camera then as well. And we all know there are a TON of great shots out there today, from some very talented photographers that still shoot film...

    As a side note, I dont care if the photographer used a cardboard pinhole camera to shoot my event, if the pictures were amazing and captured what I wanted, so be it. Just as much as I dont care if my chef uses a walmart knife or a top of the line piece of cutlery to make my salmon filet...
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2011
  11. In the commercial world, there always seemed to be a disdain toward discussing equipment—as if clients actively did not want to hear how you were going to do your shoot. You were being hired as the photographic specialist, and were expected to know what was required. Through much of my working life, I shot architectural interiors and environmental portraits with a battered old Brooks Veriwide 100, made in the 1950s—and it looked it. No one noticed—but they did notice the results in my portfolio.

    I bought the camera used and once done with it, sold it to another shooter, who is probably still using it. It is functionally identical to contemporary cameras from Linhof, Alpa, Fuji and Horseman, though the cosmetics changed over the decades.
  12. Now we have to see you family photos with all this banter! Lol.
  13. I know....look what I started haha! :biggrin:


    Mar 17, 2010
    Portage, IN
    I do understand what you mean, people see low end gear and it can make them feel uncomfortable. My guess is she normally doesn't do this, or bought the camera and realized she was good. Perhaps she is saving for her new one? BTW I too want to see some photos!
  15. cbbr


    Nov 21, 2009
    Baton Rouge, La.
    I got some fantastic 11X14's out of my D80 & "kit" lenses. Most photogs would not be caught dead with that now.... If she brought all that she needed and gets great pics, that all that matters. My newer stuff makes shooting easier, but does not necessarily make the photos better.
  16. To the OP... you must have seen some of her work prior to hiring her, that made you believe it was a good hire, no? I would base it more on her portfolio than her gear... but that's just me.
  17. I have to say these "gear makes the photographer" threads are really amazing to me. Would you have the same complaint if this were Henri Cartier-Bresson with his old Leica and 50mm lens doing the shoot? Does that camera somehow deliver "better quality" than today's gear? I'm guessing that Henri, were he still around and photographing today, would do a far better job than most of us if he had a pinhole camera and we all had shiny new D4's :eek: 

    It seems to me that this, type of gear used, is somehow more important, or at least as important, as the end result. Did you and the family somehow react differently because the shooter was not using a D3 with an 85mm 14?

    My personal opinion, to repeat what others have said, if you saw her work and were happy, then shame on you for being prejudiced about the gear. I hate to think what this thread would be if she had shown up with a Canon Rebel, or worse yet, a Sony A series.
  18. Had some time to think about it, and I guess what really bothered me was that with "pro" gear she could have done more isolation shots at f2.8 or (or f1.4 if she had primes). I guess I just expected more from the shoot. Im sure I'll be happy with the results. Its not often I get to have family pictures with myself in them. Im usually the one taking them. Thanks everyone for helping me see the light here.

    Oh and if she would have showed up with a Rebel I would have walked off. This is a Nikon forum after all :biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:
  19. Now THIS makes some great sense, I wish I'd thought of that myself :redface: And on reflection of my own, it is only because we do what we do that we would recognize this as well. Good point, well done.

    Now, as to your Wise-A Rebel crack, how elitist, what a SNOB you are, shame shame shame!!!! :biggrin:

    I was shooting a Seattle Seahawk game a couple of years ago and like an idiot I had forgotten my second body in the car. Our local pro shop is always at the games with loaner equipment, so I borrowed a second body and lens. Here I am, Nikon on a monopod, big lens and all. Over the other shoulder one of those Canon thingies, with a White Lens no less. I showered real well when I got home that night .... :wink:

    So, how about the danged PITCHERS from crying out loud? Seem 'em yet? Didn't you do any chimping at the shoot? Not that I'm impatient or anything.

  20. Weather or not she was any good, if I were hiring a professional I would expect to see some professional gear. She may be awesome but her self presentation really sucks and just screams $500 Craigslist wedding photog, and I think a little concern is more than reasonable that she is showing up to a paid event with the lowest consumer Nikon that is available. In my view it shows questionable judgement. I wouldn't expect a D3, but maybe at minimum a d7k or d300 with decent glass. She can shoot a d3000 all day for personal use, but I'm I were paying her I would expect her to bring a photographic tool that is easier to configure on the fly so if some awesome moment happens she can get the shot rather than digging through menus to get the selections made.

    Its like hiring an artist to paint a portrait and they show up with Crayola watercolors. Will it work? Sure. Does it inspire confidance? No. And in the end you get a portrait with a look of disbelief on your face rather than a smile.

    As for everyone defending her actions, you all sure have some nice gear in your sigs. I wonder why that is if none of it matters. How cone you don't all have d40's and kit lenses?

    Oh that's right. The proper tool for the job. Sorry. D3000 is hardly the proper tool for a paid shoot.

    As for Joe poorboy famous photographer with his pinhole camera. If digital hassleblads existed back then you would bet your butt he would have been shooting with one. And those types of photogs are so far in between you can virtually garauntee you will never meet one. I wouldn't consider it a wise move to assume they are some photographic genius.

    This has nothing to do with gear snobbery. This has to do with having the proper tools in your arsenol to make sure you please the client. The right tool for the right job.
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