To the new photographers, the aspiring photographers, or the photographer who just feels defeated:
Stop focusing on everyone else’s work.
Stop scrolling through Instagram comparing your images to those of the top photographers in your industry.
Stop spending hours editing, trying to make your images look just like someone else’s.
Stop beating yourself up when you get home from a session & your images don’t look identical to those of your idols.
Stop wasting your energy trying to copy another photographer’s entire aesthetic down to everything but their business name.
One huge thing I didn’t factor in when I first started out as an equine photographer:
Equipment does matter. I don’t think many people want to address this, but it’s true. I hear people say, oh the equipment doesn’t make a difference, it’s the one who’s using it that counts… I have to say I disagree here.
I’m not saying you can’t create stunning works of art with a $300 entry-level DSLR, because I’ve seen this exact thing done.
What I am saying, is that the equipment is greatly going to affect the overall appearance of the image. My Nikon Z6 with my Sigma 135 1.8 lens on will always take better quality images than my Nikon D3300 with an 18-55 5.6 lens on. My images are sharper with better bokeh and more vibrant colors, because that’s what my upgraded equipment is supposed to do!
Saying equipment doesn’t matter at all is like saying you could race a 1990 stock Honda Accord against a 2020 Ferrari… the Ferrari is going to win every time.
I used to spend so much time wishing my images looked just like those who were way ahead of me, but I never considered that while yes, they were more talented than I was because they had been doing this a whole lot longer, they also had lenses that could give the bokeh I so desperately wanted, or the sharpness their cameras could capture.
I’m not saying this to discourage anyone who doesn’t have a $5-10k setup… I’m actually saying this is great news! Stop blaming yourself or your own skills when you aren’t able to get the exact look you want – it may be the ability of your equipment limiting what you can make happen!
No matter how much your camera or lens cost, you can still make incredible artwork out of your subjects. Focus on the composition of the image, the creativity behind it, the way it makes you feel, & strive to create work that makes YOUR heart happy, not what you think will go over well on Instagram.
Left - taken with a Nikon D3300 with an 18-55 5.6 lens, Right taken with a Nikon Z6 with my Sigma 135 1.8 lens on
Want to take your skills from amateur to pro, no matter what equipment you have? Check out my Guide to Equestrian Photography!