As a growing photographer, it can be easy to fall into the idea that you have to have the most expensive gear, the best programs, and travel to iconic locations to get spectacular photos. The thing is, I try to challenge myself so that idea isn’t my truth. While I’m certainly inspired by photographers who use top-quality gear and work with the best name brand programs, I personally don’t own either. So instead of letting that be an excuse, I try to find a way to do the best I can with what I have.
I shoot with a third-hand Nikon D3000. I have a kit lens and Sigma 70-300. I don’t have Light Room or Photo Shop because my Chromebook laptop doesn’t allow for me to install programs that aren’t on the Google store. Now that I’ve presented my limitations, I’ll share how I don’t let them limit me. One thing that I know about my camera is that it doesn’t do well in low-light situations. By low light, I mean anything less than a sunny cloudless day. The farther away from sunny days the lighting is, the more creative I have to get to get a good quality image (in terms of light). So I plan my shoots and my locations carefully based on the lighting conditions. I figure out how to get what I want by using what I have available. If I want a rich forest shot, I won’t be able to go into a heavily wooded area because I won’t have light. I can have my subject stand in front of the woods and play with angles to get the look I’m going for, like I did in the image below.
When it comes to scouting locations, it seems like I always find the best ones along the highway. Does that mean that’s where they’re all at? No but because that’s what I’m driving on, it’s what I see. A lot of times, the locations aren’t accessible because well, they’re on the side of the highway. Yesterday, I kept my eyes out for a place to pull over because we had been driving by fields of golden grass for miles and I just had to get a shot there. Fields of golden grass isn’t something I’m used to seeing as a Phoenix local. It was my lucky day because I finally saw a sign saying there was a rest stop a mile away.
The plan was to come back to that point later in the evening just before sunset. I had the shoot pictured in my mind and was excited to capture the shots that played out in my mind’s eye. The thing is, a large storm threatened the skies just after lunch and there was no way I was going to get those beautiful sunset tones with the dark dramatic sky. As much as I wanted to wait it out on the off chance the storm would blow over, I couldn’t risk it because the location was in a flash flood area. So we did the shoot in the middle of the afternoon on the side of the highway. I didn’t have a diffuser with me or an assistant so I did the best with what I could.
I just wanted to encourage others to find ways to work around their perceived limitations and do the best with what they have. This isn’t photography specific. If we give into the idea that we can’t we’re right. If we’re open to finding creative ways to get around it, we’ll probably find a way. Here’s what I was able to do with my third-hand camera on the very edge of the area where I wanted to shoot in not ideal conditions. It’s not what I envisioned (beautiful pinks and orange tones in the sky with soft golden light) but I’m very pleased with the results. My daughter dressed up in her Jasmine outfit, I did her hair using a headband I had, and off we went to this field on the side of the highway. I stood by the rocks on the right-hand side and she was in the clearing and on the path throughout the shoot.