What Comes First?

Soul Killer
iPhone 4 – Edited in the Camera* App f/2.8 1/15th sec 3.9mm ISO 800

The first week of the year is complete and my wife and I have been actively looking for an assistant to help us with our respective businesses. We have a couple of prospects in mind and will be sitting down with them next week. Hopefully we’ll find the perfect person to grow with us so that I can officially start the creative side of my business to balance out days like today when I get stuck looking at data closets such as the one above for hours on end.

I do love my technical business, but it can be a real drain on your spirits. According to the test on this site, I’m 45% left brained and 55% right brained, which means I need to balance the two sides to stay sane. If I spend too much of my time doing tech work (which is my current situation), I eventually feel torn, frayed, and drained. Making part of my living doing creative work should satisfy my slightly right-brained dominant head. I do believe that a full time career in photography would actually satisfy both sides on its own due to the gadgety nature of the business, so that is always a path I will have open to me if I feel the need to traverse it.

I-Need-A Assistant Like Anita
f/2.8 1/30th sec 50mm ISO 1600

I got one of those hokey bank loan checks in the mail last week for $6,000, which brings me to the point of this post. I was really tempted to take the loan. I mean, really tempted. I had a cart filled up at Adoroma with one camera and lens package that would max out that loan with one click. Then it got me thinking. I do like my current camera, and I’ve fired the shutter over 60,000 times which means it’s a little over halfway through its expected life. I will need to get a full frame camera next, and I’d like to have a fast zoom lens that will allow me to shoot editorial type shots using natural lighting. The shot above of the lovely Anita, who’s the amazing assistant at The Wiles Law Firm, was taken using the window light and ambient light of their office. That is me pushing my current camera’s capabilities. I’m shooting at f/2.8, which is considered a fast aperture, and my ISO is pushed to 1600 (which is the highest I let my camera shoot in most situations because it tends to get ridiculously noisy over that). At 1/30th of second, I’m not freezing motion, so if she moved, it would be blurry. With a newer full frame camera, I can easily triple the usable ISO, if not more. So that’s a pretty strong case for upgrading my actual camera and lenses soon if I plan to pursue shooting events. Not to mention that a full frame camera gives you a proper handle on your focal lengths which means I could have better control over lens distortion and bokeh.

The other major equipment expense I need is lighting. Right now, I use portable flashes. In fact, if I had taken the same type of shot above and brought out my umbrellas and flashes, I could have made an extremely clean and well lit photo. If I were to take the portrait outside during the daytime though, they would be less effective as light shaping tools because they are not powerful enough to really help me turn day into night and vice versa. I would have to be in the shade or wait until dusk for the right light to really make something that works well. If I were to invest that money into a professional strobe lighting system and modifiers, I could wait on the expensive camera because I could create the ideal lighting situation that my camera could handle. I really want to pursue creative lighting solutions because to me that is a huge part of photography and with the correct equipment, you can make the right light, not find or wait for it.

So, dear readers, what do you think is more important to start with – the pro grade camera and lenses or the pro lighting system? And to be clear, I did not cash that loan check. I don’t want to begin my photography career upside down in debt. I plan on saving for this stuff the old fashioned way, even if that means mowing some lawns!

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