The Best Camera?
Chase Jarvis is an award winning photographer, director, artist, author, and entrepreneur. He is also the CEO and founder of CreativeLive, an online learning platform. I've learned a lot of valuable information from the content he has put online and I appreciate the amount of time he has spent helping people get going in the right direction. There is a quote from him that has been etched into my mind for the last several years.
"The best camera is the one you have with you."
This also happens to be the title of his book on iPhone photography which was released in 2009. Yes, you read that right, iPhone photography in 2009. In case you're wondering, in 2009, Apple released the iPhone 3GS. It had a new and improved 3 megapixel camera. Smart phones and cameras have come a long way over the past decade, but "the best camera is the one you have with you" still rings just as true today as it did back then.
Of course, there are some hot takes from people online who have everything figured out and disagree with this. To Hell with 'em, I say. Better to spend less time focusing on what you don't have and instead lean into the strengths of what you have available. If someone can make a movie from an iPhone, I think your Canon Rebel T7 is going to be just fine for taking photos of friends and the family dog. For me, it makes sense to purchase equipment as I improve, when specializing into a specific niche that requires certain gear, and when it is financially justifiable.
It didn't take much brain power to figure out if I don't have my camera on me, I'm not going to take any photos. Conveniently enough, they're still putting cameras on phones and they're getting better each year. Smart phone cameras are certainly more limited in their capability compared to a decent DSLR, but that doesn't mean you can't get good shots from your phone. We have heard it all before, but composition, lighting, vertical lines, and all the other basic fundamentals of photography can be taught with just about any standard camera. If you are serious about getting into photography, I do recommend getting a camera that allows you to adjust settings manually. A quick FB marketplace search and I found a lightly used Canon T6 with two kit lenses for $200 near me. If you really wanted to ditch the kit zoom lenses, you could sell those and buy a 50mm f/1.8 for $125 new or pick up a used 85mm f/1.8 for about $200. There are a lot of options out there, so do some Googling to get pointed in the direction you want to go.
I like looking at new cameras and gear as much as anyone, but I've had to remind myself to not avoid the work because I think I need the next new thing in order to get started. When you can upgrade, go for it! Just remember the camera is a tool and it is the person pressing the shutter that makes the image come to life. If you want to start a podcast, buy a $20 microphone from Amazon that plugs into your computer or phone, download any of the free podcast software available or use a voice recorder app, and start talking. It's not glamorous, but if you want to be a photographer, podcaster, author, or anything else, you have to do the work to become what you want to be. Buying a new camera, studio lights, or new computer won't get you there.
In my own self interest to avoid being labeled a hypocrite, I should disclose that all the photos in this blog post were taken with my iPhone 11 pro. Priscilla and I recently switched carriers, so we ended up getting new phones. The camera on this iPhone is good. Really good. It isn't a substitute for my Canon 80D, but it has really impressed me. Smart phone cameras are getting better and DSLR cameras are becoming more and more affordable. Take advantage of this if you're into photography.
It's obvious to me, but in case you're new or missed all the flashing signs, I don't have everything figured out. I'm still relatively new to the photography world and I'm not an expert in this field. However, it's important to know that you don't have to be an expert to start contributing to the community. Just be honest and try to be authentic. That hasn't steered me wrong yet. I mainly wanted to share these thoughts and advice I've picked up because it has helped me a lot. If there is any advice you received that helped you in the early days of starting something new, I'd love to hear about it.