Beth Jennings – The Journey Captured » I capture the journey of people in their personal and professional lives. I teach amateur photographers how to capture their life in beautiful photos. Photography, Melbourne Photographer, Photography Workshops, dSLR Camera Workshops, Creative Camera Course, Photo Course Melbourne, Camera Class Melbourne

BJP [shopping]

There’s nothing quite like growing out of your equipment.  On the one hand it can be a measure of progress and development.  On the other hand can be a source of frustration because you know you’ll now be up for thousands of dollars to upgrade.  Digital – it’s amazing… amazing… but so frustraing.  So you spend let’s say $5000 in 2006 buying a pretty darn good digital camera, a Canon 5D.  You also spend about $1000 on an inferior, but OK it’ll do, zoom lens and about $600 on an 8GB memory card (that’ll give about 500 frames on RAW setting). Total investment in April 2006 – $6600.

So you think that’s going to hold, this kit.  It does, but after shooting for a while and working with images for a while, you start to realise that there’s a point at which you just can’t get the richness in density you so desire.  So you push your shooting to 800ISO with portraits, to make sure you get good density in the exposures.  But the compromise of digital noise starts to sneak in.  Meanwhile the lens quality just doesn’t cut it, sharpness is compromised, and the degree of image quality you want just isn’t there.  You get by, you manage, till one day you have a mini implosion and just can’t take it any more.

So then the wallet gets opened up.  Tough to do when you’ve been travelling way too much and clients aren’t exactly rolling through the front door.  You sell the crappy lens now worth a measly $280 and a Canon L-Series 24-70mm lens is purchased for $2400.  At least this will last a long while and won’t be superseded by a bigger better faster model anytime soon.  We hope.  It’s calibrated nicely to the 5D, things tick over for a while…and then that bloody low light problem starts to slip in.  I just can’t get available light pictures well enough with this body even though my lens can go down to F2.8 – quite a nice open aperture though not working at the beautiful F1.4 – that’s another story.

Technical dramas that can only be solved with a new body – so I turf the old body that is now only worth $1000 – it’s lost $4000 of value in just 4 years.  And it’s updated brother is purchased – the Mark 2, and I buy that for $3050.  It’s ISO range goes to 6400 instead of 1600 and the relative quality at the lower ISO settings is much better than it’s older counterpart.  I’d rather buy bigger again and spend more like double that sum and get an ISO range to 12,800.  Not a chance.  At least for now, I can breath a sigh of relief.  Until I start thinking about that bloody F1.4 50mm scenario – that’s for another day on another budget of $2000.  Let’s just hope and pray that people will invest in my photography because without that investment, I don’t eat.

The final piece to the puzzle is the purchase of a new flash unit to cope with an extremely low light wedding coming up shortly. I just can’t competently shoot the job without decent light.  At least the new body will help with some of this, and the Canon Speedlite 50EXII will pick up the rest – let’s lay down another $550 for good measure. And a second memory card to cope with the shot load: let’s chuck in another hungy.

Total Equipment Spend Since 2006 = $12595
Minus Equipment Sales = $1280

Total Equipment Spend in the last 4 years: $11, 315

Oh my lord that’s a good enough start towards a house deposit.   And that doesn’t count me as a gadget freak, these are basic essential items, and I don’t even have a back up kit.  Let’s not bother talking about computer, monitor, back up drives, software – collectively worth thousands of dollars – let’s give it an even number shall we say $10,000?  Then also there’s the cost of running a business…um…let’s see advertising, insurance, office materials, examples of work to show clients, website, accountant, car, recent exhibition, education, professional affiliation…I think I’ll leave it at that.

This is why photographers get frustrated when clients get frustrated at what photographers charge.  I do think it’s our job to educate, and I hope this helps.

B

Katie - May 6, 2010 - 4:23 am

Oh my goodness Beth! Brilliant post! And I feel your pain. I bought my first DSLR body in 2006 too (but it was a 30D) and have also spent a small fortune since. And I still don’t have the MarkII! I remember once upon a time, many many years ago, a photographer friend of mine telling me how much his mate had just spent on a new kit and I just about passed out. And then thought, thank goodness I don’t have any expensive profession like that! Ha!

Beth Jennings - May 6, 2010 - 4:50 am

:) tell me about it sister! This is the problem too that we keep wanting more. But it seems to be a reasonable ask, to want for that level of quality.

Thanks for the blog feedback Katie I’m not always sure if people are reading or not, as feedback rarely comes in, so I really appreciate the comment.

may the digital force be with you
B

Christine Pobke - May 6, 2010 - 4:55 am

Amen sista friend!! :) Let’s not forget workshop investments, airfare/accom for events and tradeshows, and TIME spent editing and working on the images themselves! :) Great post and oh so true!

Beth Jennings - May 6, 2010 - 5:25 am

Hi Christine, thanks for dropping by! Yes, you are totally right TIME…I’ve actually started saying the hours count that i put to a job. I did that for the wedding client coming up (said something like 10-14 hours on post production) and she said, ‘we don’t need the pictures the very next day’, it can wait till we get back from honeymoon’. Recently a client was picking up her family story results and we were debriefing on the viewing/ordering session. She said ‘and then you gave us the ‘art’ lecture’….and the eyes rolled a little bit. I politely jumped in instantly on that one… pretty disappointed with that considering she’d walked into it with a $400 credit towards her shoot and prints, and she was still taking this point of view. She did say herself that it was art she bought in the end, but interesting how that battle went on – a tricky concept to navigate and worth its own weight in gold…will have to blog on the art question another time…gets me fired up! But yes, you are totally right, Time, Time, Time, our time is worth as much as any other professionals’ time.
B

Ness at Drovers Run - May 6, 2010 - 8:02 am

OH I hear you LOUD and CLEAR on this one! Everyone’s favourite excuse (or complaint) is that “it’s digital, so you don’t have any COSTS when you shoot.” Well no, unless you consider food a necessity to survive, a roof over your head, a computer, an internet connection etc !!!

I got my 30D in 2006, and I’m not in a position to upgrade yet. For the shooting I do now – (which has taken a back seat to my graphic design which is booming) – its more than adequate, and since I have the same clients who generally keep coming back to me, and are always happy with what I shoot, and I make sure that my post processing is always up to date with what is currently in ‘vogue’ plus my shooting style improves then I know it’s okay.

My pet peeve, is people who don’t take the time and care to improve their skill – or at least broaden their skill base and shooting style, but constantly keep buying equipment to ‘make themselves better’ and then make out like they’re better than the rest of us because they have the latest equipment.

You should also include the cost of a computer, editing software etc etc to really show people the ‘NO COSTS’ scenario!

Beth Jennings - May 6, 2010 - 9:29 am

Thanks Ness, so great to hear from you – yes I’m hearing you loud and clear – the office/back end stuff is a whole other gammet. I hope people read this and the comments to see what i’m on about – it’s not just me many photographers feel the same way!

And you are right – improvement of skill is very important regardless of equipment in fact it was just for the very basic consideration – light – that sent me to the next model. I don’t think i could even tell you what half of the added benefits are – i just needed that ISO baby! Looking forward to shooting with it and seeing the difference.

I’m glad you said that because just this very night i’m playing around in photoshop to get a look and feel in an image that I can’t do straight out of lightroom. And I feel this weight off knowing actually I can do it after all!
B

Bill - May 9, 2010 - 2:56 am

We had these discussions for pages and pages in 2001 we all agreed with the thoughts expressed here on the costs of surviving as a photographer!

Seems to be more expensive than the days of chemicals in the dark!!!! A camera bought then would still be taking great film today…

Beth Jennings - May 10, 2010 - 3:09 am

Hi Bill,
yes indeed it’s amazing how the bills add up. I sure miss the film days although of course you always had those film costs. I used to budget direct costs $1 per frame without business costs in there as that was back in my student days – think of how that adds up fast. starving artist indeed.
B

Trish - May 11, 2010 - 10:34 pm

Hey Beth – a friend wants to buy a new camera but is short of $, I suggested she look for a second hand one. Do you have any advice for her as to where to look? Where did you sell your 5D? I wondered if the AIPP has a Classified Ads section.

Thanks!

Beth Jennings - May 12, 2010 - 9:24 am

Hi Trish, thanks for stopping by. I’ve let haley richardson know, she has a canon 5D she might be selling, she has your number. Yes you are right we don’t have a classifieds section on the AIPP website but it’s always worth the suggestion! I sold my canon 5d body to someone who had bought a lens from me through all classifieds, it was great actually as i just contacted him again and within a day the old body was gone!
B

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