Does Gear Really Matter?

The Great Debate. Does gear really matter?

I think this debate comes down to two sides or two positions: Beginner and Professional.

Every photographer you talk to will give you a different answer.

Most times they will say it’s “yes” or “no”. They won’t elaborate to back up their claim, even if you ask them. Here are a few reasons as to why I think yes, gear matters, and why I think no, gear doesn’t matter, but it also depends on some variables. So find out what will benefit you, by reading more!

Disclaimer: This is not the end all be all. This is based on what I have experienced on my own, and have seen in the industry over the past 8 years of being a professional photographer.

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The BEGINNER.

I don’t think for a beginner that gear really matters. Don’t get me wrong, great gear can help aid into great work.

But as a beginner photographer, you should start out with “beginner” camera equipment and work your way up.

You don’t want to grab a $3,000 camera body, and pair it with a $1,500 lens, because what is the chance that you’re not going to want to pursue photography anymore at one point and then you have just wasted a ton of money.

Most of the photographers out there that have advanced gear, have put a lot of time and thought into what they were going to purchase for a specific reason, because of the cost of equipment.

Each item in someone’s kit, has been purchased, more times than not for specific reasons in mind, not just to purchase.

Professional grade gear can get pretty pricey, and beginners shouldn’t worry about that, until they learn their camera first.

You don’t need to have great gear to get extremely cool shots.

I have seen someone take a Go-Pro, shoot, and come back with great images.

With that being said, I do believe if you’re a beginner you should learn the Exposure Triangle.

This knowledge will help you expand and grow your knowledge of cameras and more importantly help you get shots you can’t get on “automatic” modes, but rather manual settings, which is how I get all of my shots, because I am in full control of my camera settings and have specific shots in mind.

The Professional.

If you’re a professional, or a self-proclaimed professional, I highly stress that you’re using professional grade gear.

In my opinion, if you are making a profit from having clients, you can call yourself a professional.

There’s a lot of other factors I look at when deciding if someone is a professional photographer, but mostly I’d say profit is the largest contributor to my decision.
When I determine how or what is professional gear - I’m talking about the aperture of lenses, and the glass that is used.

This involves using a constant aperture of 4(f 2.8 preferred) or larger opening for lens quality!

This will create the most desired background look, bokeh. Bokeh is what makes the background of images the most creamy and pure tasty.

When I look at an image, and see one that is shot at f/5.6 or higher, I know more times than not, the most value in a lens is not being used if it’s one of these more professional lenses.

This f stop or aperture number will determine the crisp or blurry look in the background of an image, determined by “depth of field” in portraits.

You can find the value of the f stop on the opening around the glass at the end of the lens you are using.

I have a 70-200mm Sony f/4 (my action lens), and a Sony 90mm Macro f/2.8 (my Portrait Lens & macro lens).

Both of these in my opinion aren’t the “most” professional lenses in the market, but they are pretty good for Sony’s Mirrorless line, next to the G Master lens line for my budget.

The G Master lenses run anywhere from $1,500 on the low end, to $4,000+ on the high end, per lens.

This price is pretty steep, but are the reason some photographer’s prices are a little higher than others, along with other reasons to go along with their prices.

I believe in tons of research before I purchase a lens.

Yes, you can rent gear, but if I’m going to spend money to rent gear, I might as well do extensive research to begin with, and save a few dollars in the long run.

This will help ensure that you’re getting the most bang for your client’s buck.

If you’re still shooting with a canon rebel XS, you’re not using the best gear for your clients.

A Rebel XS is a crop sensor body, which in my opinion, is not the best for the job, depending on some things and what your shooting.

Until you understand what the difference is in a crop sensor and full frame sensor and their pros and cons, I think you are still a “amerture”.

A crop body sensor is providing half or a “crop factor” to your lens, and in the end, allowing less light to enter your camera, then a full frame does.

I didn’t notice the difference until I started actually using a full frame body with the same lenses focal length.

Do research, when deciding which is best for what your going to be shooting.

Full Frame is better for low light scenarios.

I believe in giving my clients the best opportunity for quality images, which is why I have the most professional gear that works for my needs.

 

My conclusion.

Professional bodies, come and go, and are outdated within a few months, generally.

The most invested photographers are invested in their lenses, if they want to be successful.

A lot of questions are built around the mirrorless market, currently, and I always ask an inquiring photographer how invested you already are before making the switch.

I had one “pro” lens when I had my Canon gear. So it was relatively easy to make the switch.

I would have never made the switch to Sony, if I didn’t think it would be better than the gear I had already had for Canon.

I think techniques a photographer uses, and their eye, is better than any camera body specs.

As long as you understand what your camera body can do and is capable of, you should not have a problem capturing what you want.

Some of the beginner cameras I had found were not as advanced as my skills were becoming, which is why I had made the switch to Sony in the long run.

I think there is a lot of knowledge that is helpful in determining which camera you should buy, and if you should have the most “professional” gear starting out as a beginner.

With that being said, some bodies are just not capable of what some photographers try to do with them. It’s just a proven fact.

When selecting a camera or any camera equipment, do your research and a lot of it! It will save you so much money in the long run!

So which is right for you? A beginner quality camera, or a professional grade camera. The choice is yours!

10 Things You Can Do To Get Your Fans Ready For Race Season

Have you and your race team, track, or business had a productive off season?

Are you not sure what to do to keep others informed or how to spread the word?

If we’re not racing, we’re not promoting.

Promoting and Sponsors are a vital key to our success and growth in the Dirt Track Racing Community.

Currently in Central Pennsylvania, like others, I’m finally coming out hibernation due to the aftermath of the Polar Vortex, and snow conditions in the past few weeks. It’s been a roller coaster of intense weather bands lately.

To those who are racing right now in Florida, just know - I’m extremely jealous and hope you can catch some warm weather for me!

 

As I thought about my off season, and a few things that I have done or seen executed successfully, I thought I would share several tips and ideas with you.

Here are several ways, I’ve found to help stay on top of your game, going into the busy 2019 race season.

The off season is the perfect time to get caught up on these tips, because the regular season is just hepatic.

 

10 | Update Social Media Accounts & Website

This may sound like a no brainier in 2019, but you’d be surprised how many teams, tracks, and brands tend to ignore their social media and websites during the off season.

They only post during the off season during holidays, at least some.

This tends to leave fans, a little off-kilter, and way out in turn 4, if you ask me.

Whether it’s posting a simple update or posting a schedule, it will benefit you and your team, track, or brand.

Fans love action, and volume when it comes to being involved in what’s going on in the off season with teams, tracks, and brands.

So keep them up to date by giving them some insight.

Also, updating frequently is the key to staying relevant in the public’s eye.

Take advantage of it. It’s the perfect way to take advantage of free advertising!

I have an entire blog post on how to use Instagram effectively, to grow awareness for your team, track and brand or business. Check it out, here: 10 Tips to Up Your Instagram Following! or Tips to Designing Instagram Stories

 

9 | Create an Online Schedule For Your Fans

Now with all of the local PA tracks’ schedules released, I would imagine your team or business has created a tentative 2019 schedule.

With technology savvy fans, creating an online ready schedule is the perfect way to let fans know where you’ll be racing at this year or what events your track is hosting each week.

This is extremely helpful, even if it is a tentative schedule.

Google Calendars are perfect for these types of schedules, and perfect if you need to make updates and changes throughout the season.

The Google Calendar will update on the spot to each phone that is using it, once a change is made.

Also, Facebook makes creating a schedule easy as well! You can always create races, as events - so your fans can check up on it on Facebook.

 

8 | Teasers

Teasers are a perfect way to get your race fans active, and ready for the race season. This shows your fans, that you’re excited too.

Teasers can be between graphics, videos, photos, color scheme releases, etc.

Get creative.

I suggest working closely with a graphic designer, to achieve a branded look that you are satisfied with for your team, brand, or track!

Always remember: It doesn’t need to be perfect, just start!

 

7 | Secure Key Partners, Sponsorships and Relationships

This tip usually applies to all winter, but even can spread throughout the regular season, as well.

This can be the hardest part of racing, but relationships are key.

Meetings and communicating to sponsors, and getting set guidelines on how to work with them are key.

This will help ensure you have a productive and great relationship in the future.

Believe it or not, the best way to achieve sponsorship in racing, is to have personal relationships with the brands or businesses you are trying to bring on!

Sometimes, you will be given product sponsorships or monetary sponsorships, just depends on the relationship, you are going after.

Also, remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time.

Stop Stalling! The race season is about to start!

 

6 | Behind the Grind

These aren’t always the “most interesting” photos, but it shows the hard work that goes into the off season.

Teams are pretty good about sharing these, but most tracks, or brands aren’t.

And the funny part is this is probably the easiest content to post, because it’s happening right before your eyes!

 

5 | New Apparel & Sales

What better way to make money, during the off season?

Start selling 2019 apparel!

A lot of teams and tracks are on the ball with this idea, already!

Nonetheless, this idea is always worth throwing out there!

But some of them, I have no clue what they are waiting for. Christmas? HA.

Get a jump on the competition, by getting shirts to sell to your fans!

Most fans understand that shirt sales, help support your team.

They are more willing to get behind you and buy a few different ones, at once!

Fans love this time of the year, when each paint scheme is relatively different and fresh.

They will be asking, when are you going to be getting new apparel, for them to represent at their favorite tracks, or just to wear anywhere they go!

 

4 | Showcase Team Players and Members

For race teams - This should be easy.

There’s more to your team than just you…Well for most teams, this holds true.

There’s a lot of members that help your team operate, such as crew guys, owners, mechanics, etc.

Showcase their hard work, by sharing some interesting facts about them, on your team’s social media page.

For tracks and businesses - Showcase some of your workers or promotional team.

Often these people help out behind the scenes, but what better way to get the word out there of how thankful you are for them, than sharing a post about them!

Fans love this kind of publicity, and getting to know the behind the scenes of tracks and businesses.

And your employees will be more grateful to work for you, knowing their work is appreciated - It goes a long way!

 

3 | Trivia

Some teams have executed this step very well this off season!

A lot of trivia is produced to do giveaways, and gives fans the opportunity to win cool gear!

Posting trivia, can be done in a few different ways, depending on your end goals - gain followers, increase likes, etc.

The best thing is that people have something to possibly “receive” in the end.

Let’s face it, everyone like freebies!

2 | Spotlight Products or Sponsors

Promote. Promote. Promote.

I can’t stress how placing your sponsors, or their products in the spotlight.

1 | Countdowns

Are there a few races that you’re excited for? Are there events you have coming up, that you’re attending and will be on display?

Showcase those, by providing count down graphics.

Most teams are pretty good with this, but tracks and businesses aren’t always as tech savvy, or just don’t have the resources.

Designing Instagram Story Graphics - Social Media Branding

Instagram stories are some of the most used graphics, currently being made.

I use Instagram stories to showcase behind the scenes, free wallpapers, blog post updates, and the list continues.
These story graphics are so much fun, not only to create, but for your viewer(s).

You can use Instagram’s story creator, or create them in Adobe Illustrator with the correct sized file.

I always create my Instagram stories in Adobe Illustrator. This provides consistency and branding options, using fonts relative to my brand.

That way my brand is recognizable by my viewers or followers.

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1 | Consistency

Consistency in branding shines through when you create graphics that relate to your brand.

Consistency can be daily graphics, weekly graphics, or just consistency using elements of your branding to stay cohesive.

I have clear and consistent branding that I use for my company. I try to tie those elements in as often as I can, as far as when I create my Instagram Story graphics.

This consistency presents itself to the viewer in a more professional way.

 

2 | Templates

Templates are a huge thing when creating and staying consistent to your brand.

I actually have templates that I use. I created them myself, and now all I need to do is change the wording to fit my needs.

These help your viewers stay involved with your brand and what your putting out on social media in a fun, fully branded way.

See below are my Instagram story templates, and some that I have created to showcase my brand through my Instagram stories.

 
This is the simple template that I use, when creating my Instagram Stories announcing when my Blogs are posted! Easy for readers to read, and very concise.

This is the simple template that I use, when creating my Instagram Stories announcing when my Blogs are posted! Easy for readers to read, and very concise.

 
 

3 | Fonts, Photos, Colors, etc.

All of these: Fonts, Photos, Colors, Logos can help really create a branded feel.

Instagram stories are more about conveying style to your viewers, that help showcase your brand.

I love including my focus of my brand, intertwined through my Instagram stories.

In the end, we all want a cohesive look, and using these elements of design, will be key in Instagram Stories in 2019.

For example, you will rarely see pre-designed graphics on Killer Mile Motorsports, that do not include the logo or pre-designed graphics that don’t use the Killer Mile Motorsports color palette.

Most brands try to adhere to their own graphic standards to keep a form, when their designing graphics to represent their brand or business.

I highly stress you stay consistent in your color, fonts, and photo selections as well, for your audience.

 

4 | Don’t over clutter.

As readers, we all like things to be easy to read, and to the point. Instagram Stories are more for that reasoning.

No one wants to read paragraphs on Instagram Stories.

It’s 2019 and most people tend to skim for the important stuff.

Try to keep your Instagram Stories to concise information, and the most important information, when designing your Instagram story graphics.


Uninspired With Photography?

Are you suffering from Photographer’s Block? Or just uninspired to do awesome work?

You are not alone!

This happens to everyone. It’s more common than you may think.

All of us experience or go through some type of “burnout” process, in every trade.

We shoot the same thing over and over, and sooner or later we start to lose interest or focus in getting creative all of the time.

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Here are 3 ways that I curb my photographer’s block or creative block.

1 | Change Subjects.

If you shoot or design only one type of subject, try changing it up and trying another type of subject.

This helps you get creative, and always searching for different moods of an image.

I shoot motorsports, primarily sprint cars, 99.9 percent of the time.

When I want to change it up, I’ll ask a friend to model for me, for a portrait shoot. It’s that easy.

 

2 | Change Your Gear.

If you want to get creative, and you don’t think your gear is cutting it, try changing your kit.

I don’t mean buy new gear, but rather only use one lens for a day from your full gear kit. This is perfect opportunity to see what you can come up with.

This is a great way to regroup, and refocus on creativity.

When you’re limited or have limited types of gear, creativity will arise and succeed in the long run.

If anyone notices, when I shoot, I rarely will use more than one lens during a shoot.

I try to get creative with whatever gear I take on my shoot.

It adds a level of difficulty I can be proud of.

Also, at the end of the day, it teaches me my ability to use a specific lens, and see what works, or what didn’t work.

 

3 | Just Take A Break From Shooting.

Sometimes taking a step back, or a break from shooting photos, actually helps.

I don’t mean, take just a day off. I mean take a week or a month off from shooting. These types of breaks helps you refresh your mindset and refuel your creativity.

When I go to a racetrack, if I’m taking a break, I’m constantly searching for new places to stand or unqiue places to shoot.

 

Now that you’ve read my 3 tips on how I curb my photographer’s block - How do you handle yours?

Do you think any of these tips will help you?

Let me know in the comments section!

 

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