It’s Not the Gear, It’s the Photographer

by | Sep 21, 2018

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

I think it’s pretty obvious but equipment doesn’t make photographs, people do. It’s also obvious that you’ll need a camera and some kind of light source—even if it’s the sun—to shoot anything but you don’t need a $6495 Hasselblad X1D-50c to make a portrait of your wife, friend or significant other. Any and I mean any camera that takes interchangeable lenses will let you create really great portraits.

A few years ago, I wrote a article for the print edition of Shutterbug magazine about creating an in-home studio for less than $200. If you poke around their website you might be able to find it.  It featured  a portrait shoot I did with a camera and lens that together cost less than $400—and that was with a new camera bought on sale from Amazon.

The reality is that there are lots of bargains available in used or refurb cameras that you can purchase from camera stores, eBay or Craig’s List. My purchase of my dream camera Olympus Pen F was a refurb that was almost half the price of a new one. It looks and shoots like a new camera but without the sticker shock that Pen F’s still have. So here’s a few things to keep in mind”

  • Don’t let ego determine what kind of camera you buy or use. Recently I talked with an aspiring portrait photographer who’s using a camera that was introduced four years ago and he told me that when he went to photography meet-ups people disparaged his use of “old” gear.
  • Don’t let other other people determine how you spend your money.
  • Speaking of money, having too much money tied up in cameras and lights or worse, debt for that gear, will sink a new pro or aspiring professional photographer faster than anything else. You should sell your photography based on the quality of your work, personality and business ethics.
  • The truth is that if your clients like you and their photographs, they don’t care if you shoot with a used Panasonic Lumix Gx1, like the one I recently bought from Roberts Camera for $125.

For some other thoughts on the subject if you have time, please read “You Are What You Shoot?” on my car photography blog/website.

How I made this shot: For my most recent shoot with Pam Simpson, the lighting set was simple: At camera right was a Paul C. Buff DigiBee DB800 with a Plume Ltd hexagonal Wafer soft box attached. Another DigiBee DB800 with the unique 48-inch Dynalite Quad Square black/silver umbrella was at camera left placed in the back of my studio. Camera was my new, refurb Panasonic Lumix GH4 with Lumix G Vario 14-45/F3.5-5.6 lens (at 45mm) with an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/9 and ISO 200.


If you’re interested in learning how I shoot portraits and use cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio and on location, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere which is available new from for $22.44 and $13.74 used, as I write this. Interested in learning how to shoot better portraits and want hands-on training, check out my one-on-one workshops.