"Enjoy the art of photography .... but how to afford it ??"
Hi fellow nikonians I am really attached to photography. I spend a lot of time (all the time mi family and job allows anyway)learning, reading and naturally taking pictures. But, not only getting the time for it is difficult. It is also very complex to afford the expenses that this hobby demands (camera, lenses, films, laboratory, etc.). I am not trying to do photo for a living but I would like to find some financial support from the hobby itself.
I would like to open a discussion on this regard. What kind of ideas do you folks suggest. Do you share also the same feeling??
Do some of you have found any solution that doesen't involves the bank??
#1. "RE: Enjoy the art of photography .... but how to afford it ??" In response to Reply # 0
DeLand, Florida, US
One thing that I have noticed in the last thirty something years is that people today are more inclined to keep trading in gear in pursuit of the promise of "better" photography. Even in the best case, this will cost you money, and many times, the "improvement" will only be imagined. Not to date myself, (I'm really not that old!), but there was a time when the camera was the means to an end (photos), not the end itself.
If photography is to be your passion and not a trendy thing to do, then you can economize by minimizing you selection to a very good camera with great potential for longevity. There are many folks in this forum that based on the threads are happy for every new model to come down the line, and then there are others that couldn't care less, going on using the tried and true workhorse gear that has never let them down. Probably a balance between these two philosophies is best. Almost twenty years ago, I was laughed at by my "camera of the month friends" when I paid 700 Dollars for a new Nikon F3. I am still using this camera, and I couldn't count how many cumulative 700 Dollars these friends have spent in the subsequent years. These guys are busy reading new (and thicker) instruction manuals, while I am busy using my camera... the camera that doesn't owe me a thing.
So... Buy a good camera, a good lens or two and use it forever. Go to the library and check out all of the old books that talk about f-stops and shutterspeeds and learn photography. You will be less inclined to feel the need to spend yet more money when the new camera can't do anything that you can't already do yourself... don't be fooled by the advertisements... you can do anything yourself!
By the way... I am now retired at 43 years old. My income is no doubt less than yours. I can still do photography because the cameras I will be using ten years from now are already in my camera bag, most old enough to vote already. Today my only expense is film and processing.
#2. "RE: Enjoy the art of photography .... but how to afford it ??" In response to Reply # 1
Al Smith just gave you the most valuable photographic advice you'll ever get! Do yourself a favour and avoid the race to own the latest WonderFlex - ten years from now you'll be happily shooting away if you choose wisely today.
At the risk of giving my site a plug, take a look here:
Damn Mike, Were we separated at birth or what? Every word in your dinosaur essay could have come out of my brain, although you are able to be less abrasive than me. I need to work on that. Maybe there is a new and exciting computer that can help me compose better.
Tell you what, Al, I'm looking forward to standing you a few cold beers if and when you ever make it over to Europe!
Dinosaurs we may be, but isn't it amazing how many like-minded folk have met up here at Nikonians? Jasper in Australia, Geo in Italy, Andrey in Russia, many, many others... all happily shooting superb photos using their own heads to compose and their hands to focus MANUAL cameras! Every week I get email from photographers, usually much younger than you and me, telling me how delighted they are with their new "old" Nikons, Rolleis and other classics. A friend of mine in New York, George, just bought his fifth Nikkormat to make sure his own kids will be able to learn to enjoy REAL photography for decades to come. I well understand.
Me, I like the idea that most of my cameras were built by hand by real people. I come from a long line of human beings, too, and I'm no fan of robots!
Did I mention that I now own an F2A? Now that's a CAMERA!
Well, well Al & Mike I got the message very loud and clear. But let me diverge a little . I stated my concern about the costs of photography not only because od the equippment. Camaras and lenses are expensive, and the process of learning what kind of gear is the one that most fit your interest, might be costly too. I am not thinking on buying the brand-new-top-of-the-line gadgets, but in order to choose the right equippment you have to try it.
In my country there is no option such as try-and-buy. You buy-and-try and if you don't like it .... well, try to sell it with the natural loss of money . I am not against the techky stuff, if the new tecnology allows me to focus more in the composition of the picture rather in the technical aspects, so welcome it (provided that it doesn't iterfere with creativity).
I am not against old stuff because it is old, I do appreciate oldies but in my particular case I must be very, very careful at the moment of buying some. In fact I own a very old Asahi Pentax camera with a couple of really old lenses and they work quite fine but it also needs more manteinance.
But when I posted this message guys I was not thinking on that issue only. After all as soon as you gather the right equippment, you shouldn't need further buying. What really concerns me is the operational costs of this hobby. Lets mention some the most important cost items as a sample
Film - Color Lab - Color Prints - B&W paper - developer - fixer - toner
and if you like to try digital printer ink - printer paper
A single roll of color film processed with the prints cost me about $13 (in the slide side a velvia roll cost about $8 w/o processing), and you guys know how fast you can shoot a roll. If it comes to B&W, a 100sheet print paper box cost me about $50 and you can use up to 7 sheets for a single picture (if not more in some cases)
Add to that, that normally I don't like about the 70% of the pictures I took (yes I have a lot of learning still to do;-)), the amount of money you can spend in a year could afford a lot of gadgets. (and I didn't mention batteries because it seems to be a sensible matter...jejeje)
In a nutshell, I agree with you guys in order that the gadgets doesn't make the picture... but there is still a lot of money on the street.
Anyway, I appreciate your advice because I do agree that it is very easy to get lost in this tech consumer enviroment.
#6. "RE: Enjoy the art of photography .... but how to afford it ??" In response to Reply # 2
Rancho Cordova, US
LAST EDITED ON Oct-10-01 AT 10:51 PM (GMT)
Thanks for the link.
"But don't you, like me, yearn for a just-for-fun car from the 60s, from the days where cars had personalities and form?"
My first real car was a hot rodded 1968 (primer gray, thank you) Oldsmobile Cutlass S with 350 cubic inches of american iron breathing from a 6" K&N filter on a Carb Shop modified Rochester carb, into Hooker Super Comp Headers, 2.5" pipes, and a 3 chamber Flowmaster muffler. Oh to turn the key and hear the air getting sucked in and the muffler rumbling at idle. (It still got 20+ miles per gallon on TALL 2.73 gears and two speed Jetway transmission.)
Seems like all of todays car designers come from Art Center in Pasadena.
#7. "RE: Enjoy the art of photography .... but how to afford it ??" In response to Reply # 1
spend yet more money when the new camera can't do anything that you can't already do yourself... don't be fooled by the advertisements... you can do anything yourself!
<obligatory wiseguy crack>
I would love to see any person with a full manual shooter (no autowinder) crank out 5 frames per second. Now THAT would be a sight to see!
</obligatory wiseguy crack>
Jorge, what I find disturbing is that people get gadgety. Photography is a gadgeteer's dream. Too often we get caught up wanting to have the latest and greatest camera and accessories for them. Long ago, I've made myself a promise that I would use whatever I bought. That way, I don't have something I bought sitting around, collecting dust.
Why should you take advice from a guy who has the latest and greatest gadgets? Well, I might have new gadgets but next year, I'll get married, buy a house and maybe have kids (well, I won't be the one bearing them but let's just say I have a hand in the process. ). My photography budget is going to dry up rather quickly. It will be a while before I am able to upgrade again. My advice is to buy once (for now) and buy wisely. Whenever you get the itch, address what is giving you the itch. How will an F6 or an F100s or an FM3B help me become a better photographer? If you can't answer that question, then you don't need to move up. I have an old Olympus digital camera. I could have moved up 3 times over but I haven't. Why? Because I have not outgrown the camera. For what I shoot with it, it suits my needs. Would I love a D1x (or even a D1 for that matter)? Heck yes, but I can't justify (to me) running out and buying one. Why did I go out and buy an FM3A when I already have an F100? To help me grow as a photographer. Could I have done it with something else? Sure. Just the timing of it worked out that way.
Let's face it; the basics of photography have not changed in over 150 years. You have to time a controlled exposure of light to match the medium. That's it. It doesn't matter if it is the original F, FM3A or the D1x.
Remember, photography comes more from the photographer rather than the tools he or she uses. The tools that a photographer uses can help convey his or her vision and certain tools can make their job easier. But I've yet to see an F5 (or any other camera) that will frame up a shot on its own.
--- "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." -Confucius
#8. "RE: Enjoy the art of photography .... but how to afford it ??" In response to Reply # 7
LAST EDITED ON Oct-11-01 AT 05:22 AM (GMT)
Hi Jorge, No,there is no way round the problem with bank.Withdraw to buy,earn to buy or rob to buy If you like it so much and finding it hard to finance it currently,may be you should explore if you can sell some of your work.Local fair perhaps. About the camera choice,there are too many choices and you are the best person to judge what you will need.Just look at the options available with Nikon alone,manual AIS,F100 .. and D1 before you consider other camera brands.In the end,it boils down to what Johnny stated in his last paragraph.It's you the photographer that matters.But being male and gadget loving,we like to debate and disagree over our "tools" while the female Nikonians are out taking photos. I'm fairly young,cough and i like mechanical things like watches so my choices in camera evolves along the same line . I like to take credit for the exposre result for personal satisfaction too but i have no qualm about using a modern SLR if i think it will make things easier for the task at hand(ie.1/3 step in exposure compensation for slides and need for TTL flash for example).Despite being a pro manual camera person,i am also keeping an eye out for the dawn of the affordable 6 meg full frame Digital SLR. That would give me sometime to save up i hope.May be not.Need to get marry and buy a house at some stage too
#9. "RE: Enjoy the art of photography .... but how to afford it ??" In response to Reply # 8
Isn't it odd how this kind of discussion attracts the same Nikonians? Jorge, don't worry, relax, you're in safe hands! We'll help you spend all your money! If you leave it to us, you'll be going to work every day just to pay for your equipment...
I guess the bottom line depends on how seriously you're planning on getting into photography. Is developing and printing your own work part of the deal? If so, getting a B&W lab started is expensive but (chosen carefully...) a one-time expense. And I think you'll find that colour slides work out cheaper per shot than prints off colour negatives with far higher quality - but you'll have to buy a good slide projector.
Anthony: growing up in the UK, I was never really exposed to those magnificent American muscle cars. But I did actually have a chance to try out a V8 Mustang identical to the one Steve McQueen drove in "Bullitt" - wow! What was the bad guy's car? A Chrysler Charger? Can't remember...
Old isn't automatically good, and new isn't neccessarily bad, whether it's cameras, cars, bicycles or anything else. But a well researched purchase is usually a better long-term investment than an impulse-buy from a glamourous ad...
#10. "RE: Enjoy the art of photography .... but how to afford it ??" In response to Reply # 9
I've been reading with interest particularly when I was thinking about this issue when I was buying my last camera. In the end I caved in to a friend's recommendation and bought the F80, which I love, but its an electronic AF camera not too dissimilar to my old Pentax ME-F, the first SLR I ever owned that packed up on me after 5-6 years (I bought it in 1984). The electronics died suddenly and I haven't been able to find a replacement chip; even Pentax say that they don't support the ME-F anymore.
So I'm wondering about what lifetime to expect from my F80; are fully manual cameras truly the best choice if one wants a camera to last a lifetime, or at least the next 20-30 years?
#12. "RE: Enjoy the art of photography .... but how to afford it ??" In response to Reply # 10
I truly believe the answer is yes... simply because there's less to go wrong, and what can go wrong can usually be fixed without being completely dependant on some unobtainable electronic service part.
Conventional shutters can be rebuilt. A while back, I had a long chat with the folks at a trustworthy German repair facility that's done a couple of jobs for me, and they're not short of business. Broken springs can be remanufactured, as can stripped gears and most of the vital mechanical parts that make up a camera. They had no trouble with my 1966 Rolleiflex, which came back pretty much the way it left the factory.
Mechanical lenses can be serviced and relubricated ready for another 20 year cycle, but what can anybody do about the tiny core motors inside an AF lens? As for the chips inside modern cameras, it's probably a safe bet that after five years there will be no chance of replacing them. My father-in-law's Canon T-70, actually quite a decent little 80s SLR with a built in motor, suddenly quit a few weeks ago due to some internal electronic problem that nobody can fix. It's a shame about your Pentax ME, which was really a splendid little lightweight camera. But the Pentax K-1000 that predates it has a much better reputation as a simple workhorse... the only electronics on board power the meter.
Jasper, don't despair, mate! I found an interesting site describing a whole new aspect to dry film processing of conventional negatives:
In spite of all the digital alternatives, regular film seems to be alive and kicking with no signs of a forseeable demise.
I know I'm always preaching the same stuff, and I guess a lot of folks are sick of listening to me. But don't you ever get that feeling that you just KNOW you're right, even if everybody else seems to disagree? Forgive my ramble...
#13. "RE: Enjoy the art of photography .... but off topic" In response to Reply # 9
growing up in the UK, I was never really exposed to those magnificent American muscle cars. But I did actually have a chance to try out a V8 Mustang identical to the one Steve McQueen drove in "Bullitt" - wow! What was the bad guy's car? A Chrysler Charger? Can't remember...
Mike, the bad guys did drive a Charger in Bullitt. From what I'm told the 440 in the Charger would walk the Mustang on straightaways. The Mustang just handled a heck of a lot better.
The Brits had a few good ones. How about the Ford Cortina with the V8? Or V8 Triumphs?
BTW, Ford has released a Bullitt edition of the 2001 Mustang. McQueen would have bought one.
BTW: I'm still working on the FM3A review. I have to shoot some color film in it (almost blasphemy!) so I can get photo CD's of photos to include in the review. Most of my trip I used B&W and I don't have a scanner yet.
--- "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." -Confucius
#14. "RE: Enjoy the art of photography .... but off topic" In response to Reply # 13
We're wondering off topic, but fortunately Bo and JRP are busy enjoying their Nikonian meeting in the USA, so chances are we'll get away with it...
I don't know about a V8 Cortina, but I remember a 3 litre V6 version of the MK II built in small numbers by a guy called Jeff Savage. The Savage Cortina was pretty viscious, supposedly good for 130mph plus. Not many Cortinas left in the UK nowadays - British Racing Rust having taken most of them to the grave including the sexy 1600E I had in 1974... I had the beast for three years and had to weld the tops of the front suspension struts twice! I think Ford built their cars out of recycled baked bean cans back then - simple devices for converting money into ferous oxide!
Foto-Brenner in Germany has the FM3A in its catalogue now for around DM 1600, but they're not known for bargain prices. I do wish it would come down a bit, because the more I read, the more I like it...
#16. "RE: Enjoy the art of photography .... but how to afford it ??" In response to Reply # 9
Rancho Cordova, US
It is expensive, there's no questioning it. I've promised the wife that "I will not purchase any new and/or used photographic equipment and/or accessories including but not limited to lenses, stands, cables and bodies until after my credit card debt has been eliminated and new furniture for the house purchased and paid for." Film and filters are not part of the agreement.
I did get her to purchase a scanner for me so that I can now scan images and negatives (Now to find the time....)
Best advice I got from my photography instructor in university was get out and shoot, and see what other people are shooting (subjects), and critique technique, style, etc. and see if any lessons can be learned.
Mike: a "Bullitt" mustang, huh? COOL!
Yes, older isn't better, just different. To quote some magazine writer: "The best thing about owning a Lotus is owning a Lotus; the worst thing about owning a Lotus is owning a Lotus."
#17. "RE: Enjoy the art of photography .... but how to afford it ??" In response to Reply # 0
LAST EDITED ON Oct-11-01 AT 05:07 PM (GMT)
Anyhow... Jorge, If I read your first postright your query was 'Is there a way to make amatuer photography pay for itself?'. Well NO but there are a couple of ways to be a semi-pro. If you do something for money you are a 'pro' but you don't lose anything if your still having fun. If you are active in your community there are small jobs that can allow for covering costs while you get to play with your camera. Churches, schools and families have many ocassions that could offer meager compensation for services rendered. The moral questions arise in not taking business from true pro's or giving poor work just because 'they didn't pay for quality'. I have done one aniversary party so I may continue to 'offer my services' but each step raises the need for more equipment...like I needed a reason !!!
#18. "RE: Enjoy the art of photography .... but how to afford it ??" In response to Reply # 0
New York City, US
Most People seem to address the expense side, but there is also an incime side.
In the 80s I became interested in Macrophotography of model railroads. In invested in equipment like macro-lenses, right angle finder, lights, etc. I began taking pictures and then selling them to model railroad magazines, either for their photo columns or as part of an article. I didn't make really big bucks, but it was enough to pay for the equipment I bought.
Now, I never went to photo magazines because there I would have had to compete with the big guys. But for model railroading I was always able to place a shot. Maybe it was only $25 or $50 a picture or a couple of hundred for a short article with photos but it brought in enough so that I couldn't complain.
So maybe your hobby can support itself. I'm certain farm magazines and auto magazines and woodworking magazines and many others exist out there that are always looking for material ("all the news that fits, we print"?) and they can pay just enough to just support your hobby. Not very grand, but worthwhile.
#19. "RE: Enjoy the art of photography .... but how to afford it ??" In response to Reply # 18
LAST EDITED ON Oct-12-01 AT 04:39 PM (GMT)
Bo and JRP will trash us when they get back - we're getting OT!
Every British car built up till the early 70s had the famous Lucus electrical componants. They were as good as Sigma lenses and Zenith cameras. The Joe Lucas - Prince of Darkness reputation was fully justified - you never really knew what was going to break down and when. Best of all was Lucas's abortive attempt at mechanical fuel injection - the Triumph TR6-pi and a couple of others. Several British Leyland workshop managers are still residing in assylums for the insane, mumbling to themselves about pump timing and counting glass beads, as a result of these cars!
One day I'll probably own an FM3A. I've handled one, and it's impressive. But I might not live long enough to wear out all my other Nikons...
#21. "RE: Enjoy the art of photography .... but how to afford it ??" In response to Reply # 0
LAST EDITED ON Oct-12-01 AT 06:03 PM (GMT)
While I agree with the MF dinosaurs here about equiptment, to address your comments about film/developing costs, I'd like to offer a suggestion.
If your budget is very tight, to the point where film costs are a real concern, maybe you could use this to your advantage. I've talked to people that have switched from 35mm to medium format and they find that they think alot more now about composition, etc. simply because each negative costs a lot more money. There's no reason why you couldn't apply this same discipline to 35mm.
You may want to check out "Chased by the Light" by Jim Brandenburg. He took a period off (90 days I believe) and allowed himself ONE exposure per day. This forced him to really concentrate on exposure, light, composition, etc. instead of just shooting away. I found this approach rather thought-provoking. (actually I think it would make a pretty good Nikonians assignment)
#22. "Great point Jeff!" In response to Reply # 21
DeLand, Florida, US
Jeff has made an outstanding point here. I remember several years ago in "Shutterbug" magazine, Roger W. Hicks did an article along the lines of "use your 35mm camera like a large format camera." This guy is so retro that he makes Merlin and I look like we come from the future... (what came before dinosaurs?) His points were well made, and if followed couldn't help but make you a better photographer, all while REDUCING the quantity of film used.
In this pursuit, everything slows down. The camera in on a tripod. The lens is focused via a zone, with the lens set to the optimum aperture. Multiple light readings are made, and averaged for the best rendering of the scene. The camera's viewfinder is examined in minute detail for the best composition... two degrees pan left, five degrees tilt up.
While many folks brag about the rate of fire of their motor drives, unless you have a specific need, (like sports), they can cause a mental laziness. Treat each shot like it is the only one in the camera, ala large format, and see how much longer you wait before tripping the shutter.
This might not be as sexy as blasting away with your F100 on continuous drive, but in respect to your question, if you shoot film, you have to pay for it. So shoot less film, and make every frame count. 36 out of 36 winning shots (fully possible when you slow down) cost the same as 8 out of 36 (fully possible when you are not thinking through each shot).
#23. "RE: Great point Jeff!" In response to Reply # 22
As one who in the past has been guilty of shooting up film like toilet paper (when the US Government was paying for it) and now has to economise ('cos now I'm paying for it!) these last comments make a lot of sense.
Discounting fooling around with it, for the last three years my six-frame-per-second MD4 hasn't fired a single burst in action.
I, too now tend to make every shot count, particularly with B&W where the more I shoot, the longer I have to work...
#25. "RE: Great point Jeff!" In response to Reply # 24
I've enjoyed reading this great thread folks. That is because I am basically a Nikonian Dinosaur, sort of like the Pope is basically Catholic.
Sure glad Nikon equipment has nothing from Lucas in it. I had a TR-7 during my whipper snapper days. Fun to drive, whenever Lucas parts were not being replaced. Tight steering. I remember sneezing once, and finding myself in the next lane.
This is now so far off topic that if JRP or Bo find it we'll be for the high jump, BUT...
Today my wife finally joined the ranks of motorized Dinosaurs. You see, there was this old Alfa Romeo Spider in white that's been sitting around on a dealer's lot for the last three months. A real Italian twin cam, twin 40-Weber, leather seats. Loud, uncouth, and more smiles per mile than anything I've driven in recent years - best of all, not a single Lucas componant on the car! She had to have it, so now we have at least one fun old car in the family!
Jack, very few of those nice TR7s still survive, at least in Europe. The Lucas parts were one strike against this otherwise so sympathetic sports car, but the worst was British Leyland's idea of rustproofing! As you no doubt discovered for yourself - British Racing Rust at its finest!
Jorge, I apologize for leading us so far astray from your original question, but I hope you've had as much fun as we did with the thread!
Jeez! We just can't leave you alone for a few days ......... I'll get back to you but first allow me to try for an answer to Arturos's question: I have been finding more and more photo enthusiasts doing weddings, first for fun or to give the couple a nice album as a gift (like I do quite frequently), later on charging for the effort. Those guys seem not only to enjoy it but they derive a decent additional income to pay for their hobby. Maybe that's the route to follow. You may find also that your photos are by far more candid and imaginative than those of the typical wedding pro, for whom the task has become a routine, frequently painful when not just boring. Have a great time JRP (Nikonian at the north-eastern Mexican desert) My profile, My Gallery Previous photographic journey, before Nikonians: A Brief Love Story
An old Alfa? That's cool. There is nothing like the feeling of driving a bare bones car. Four wheels, an engine and seats (optional). Ahhh! Sounds like your taste in cars mirror your taste in cameras (see? Nikon content in this post!)
Q: Do you know why the English drink warm beer? A: Lucas makes their refrigerators!
--- "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." -Confucius