Archive for Sunday, July 6, 2008

Behind the Lens: Invest in yourself - not your camera

July 6, 2008


About this series

"Behind the Lens" is a weekly look at photography, written by Journal-World staff photographers. Have an idea for the column? Contact Thad Allender, photo director, at 832-6359 or

Earlier this week, Nikon announced their much-anticipated D700 camera body, sending waves of excitement through the photo industry. As much as I want that silly $3,000 camera body, I will never buy it. Neither should you. Now let me explain why.

Since 2000, Nikon has released no fewer than 20 prosumer and professional DSLR camera bodies. Canon, its biggest competitor, has released just a few more.

Today's new and shiny camera is tomorrow's paperweight. Worse than new cars, digital cameras depreciate in value so quickly, in fact, that it's oftentimes tough after the first year to recoup less than half of what you paid for the camera. Talk about a bad investment.

My advice for prospective photographers, students, hobbyists and professionals is simple: If you want to become a better photographer, invest in yourself, not in equipment. Here are three things you can do this summer to become a better photographer:

1. Treat yourself to a photo workshop. There is no better way to learn about photography than a hands-on workshop surrounded by photographers who have more experience than you do.

2. Build your "visual vocabulary." The more pictures that you've seen, the more ideas you bring to the table next time around. I like to reverse-engineer my favorite photographs, paying close attention to lens choice, aperture, shutter, composition and light.

3. Join Flickr, an online photo sharing service with millions of passionate participants. On Flickr, users can ask for critiques, comment on photos, explain techniques and create groups composed of members with shared interests. It is a great way to engage other photo creatives.

Here are some photo workshop resources:

¢ Spring in the Flint Hills by Edward C. Robison -

¢ Santa Fe Photographic Workshops -

¢ Jim Richardson Photography Workshops -

Here are some other online photography resources:

¢ Flickr -

¢ Sports Shooter -

¢ -


mom_of_three 9 years, 11 months ago

After several years of compact digital cameras, I bought a Nikon D40. I get asked about it everywhere from others who want an SLR. And, as I learned from the Journal World photography seminar last winter, I try to take it with me everywhere. I learned so much from the seminar. And I love "Behind the Lens."

Janet Lowther 9 years, 11 months ago

As near as I can tell, my 1960s Leica film camera is still appreciating. Probably not as fast as it was for a while there, but. . . Of course, a new M8 makes the $3,000 Nikon sound downright affordable.

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