Photography is an expensive past time. With the price of camera bodies starting in the thousands, and lenses that are worth more than some cars, it would be easy to be scared off taking up photography as a hobby. For new photographers, cost is often a huge deterrent in upgrading from a kit lens, or moving into shooting with flash, but there are ways to make photography more affordable, whilst still developing your skills and adding to your collection of gear.
Renting gear is a great way to test out a new piece of equipment before committing to a purchase. There are many stores and studios that offer rental pieces, from specialised lenses to lighting stands en masse, like Cameracorp. Renting a piece of equipment is also convenient if you need it for a once-off situation, but are not likely to need it again. Hiring a piece for a week or a month is cheaper than buying it outright. However, if you are hiring equipment regularly, the costs add up, and you might want to consider purchasing that specific lens or tripod you keep needing.
Make your own studio
It’s hard to justify spending money on buying or renting a fully functioning photography studio, kitted out with lights and backdrops, unless you’re a professional. Fortunately you can make your own studio at home for a fraction of the cost. If you have large windows with great light, make use of them and set up a cloth or paper background (a patterned fabric, textured curtains, large craft paper, a coloured wall - anything that takes your fancy) for stunning portraits or product shots. If you have a couple of flash units (speedlights) treat them as if they were studio lights and use homemade modifiers such as black card to cut light and add contrast, or white card to reflect light and fill the shadows. A ‘makeshift’ studio will really open your photographic options.
Image taken by Jessica Tanner
Buy and sell second hand
Buying second hand camera and lighting equipment is a fantastic way to grow your kit without damaging your bank balance. There is an endless supply of pre-loved lenses, tripods and speedlights up for sale online, and you can often get a great price for almost-new equipment. Photographers generally take good care of their gear, and thus second-hand equipment is often in great condition. But like buying any used item, take the appropriate precautions.
If you also have gear laying around that you never use anymore, such as a kit lens that you have outgrown, or a tripod you bought 10 years ago that has since been replaced, put them up for sale. The cash that you make can be re-invested into your kit, to buy some new lens filters, or go towards that dream lens that you’ve had your eye on. Not only will you have some extra funds, but your unwanted item could be exactly what someone else needs. Everyone wins!
Image taken by Selena Clynch
The amount of educational content online is phenomenal, so there’s no excuse to avoid furthering your knowledge in photography. Whether you are interested in how to pose people for portraits, interesting lighting techniques, or even Photoshop and retouching skills, there are countless articles, how-to videos, reviews, and even complete courses available, and many are free. Try CreativeLive, Lynda, F-stoppers, YouTube and the Photoh blog as places to get started.
Join the Photoh community
Becoming part of the Photoh Facebook groups is free, and is a great way to ask questions and receive constructive feedback on your shots. If you want to practise your skills and receive feedback while shooting, come along to a Photoh group class in your city to meet other photography students and learn from instructors who are working professionals. Group classes are a fantastic way to get inspired, learn some new skills, gain hands-on experience and ask as many questions as you can think of.