Some of our readers have asked us to write a post on how you can enjoy photography on a small budget, so I wanted to put together a post with some of my own suggestions because I have been there, done that (still doing it, to be honest).
When I first got into photography, I had very little money to spend on anything besides my initial DSLR purchase. You often hear photographers, both professionals and amateurs touting the, "spend the extra money, you won't be sorry" mantra when it comes to gear, but the truth of the matter is, not everyone always has hundreds of dollars to drop on equipment.
Photography shouldn't be prohibitively expensive, and if you aren't in a situation where you can spend a lot of money, and if you aren't interested in going into business and simply want to enjoy making pictures, that's okay! Yes, it really is.
Here are some tips that will help you stretch your hard-earned money as far as you can, while still enjoying photography to its fullest.
INVEST IN YOURSELF
Get this: taking a webinar or workshop, even though these two things cost money, can actually save you money in the long run!
This is something that I did not do when I first began to dabble in photography, and I wish I had. I wish I had taken a webinar to learn how to properly use my camera. I spent a lot of time in the beginning thinking that my gear was sub-par, or that I was a terrible photographer, but the reality of it was that I had very little clue how to use my equipment. Knowing how to properly use your equipment will keep you away from the "I have to spend a lot of money to make great pictures" mentality. If you invest a little bit of money in yourself in the beginning, you will get the most out of the equipment you have.
BE A SMART & THRIFTY DIY-ER
Don't have gorgeous hardwood floors, backdrops, etc, but want to set up an indoor studio? Want to dabble in studio lighting, but don't want to drop hundreds and hundreds of dollars? You're not alone, I promise.
We are bombarded by ads showing us the top-of-the-line equipment. We also see many established photographers who have the means to afford the latest and greatest. Naturally, this causes some gear envy in all of us from time-to-time.
Here's the deal, though: with a little bit of research and resourcefulness, you can set up a pretty awesome studio, or dabble in flash photography, or make a really awesome camera bag without spending $300, or find a cool camera strap on Etsy that won't break your piggy bank. You just need to know where to start, and where to look!
My go-to for DIY inspiration is always Pinterest. You can find a lot of things on there that will help save you money, however, disclaimer:
As we all know, Pinterest can lead to Pinterest fails, which will end up costing you more money - the opposite of what we're going for here! I encourage you, when you find a DIY photography project that you want to try, to do as much research as possible. Read the comments on Pinterest, and the blogs from where the original Pins came. That is where you will find people saying "Wow, this was great" or "Oh my gosh, don't try this at home" or "Try this at home, but here are some tips."
Also, speaking of being thrifty, be sure to keep an eye on local thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales for things that you can use in your photography. Some times, you'll really luck out, you just have to be diligent.
DON'T BE AFRAID OF USED EQUIPMENT
When it comes time to purchase equipment, don't be afraid to purchase equipment that has been gently used and refurbished by a trusted company such as KEH, B&H, and Adorama.
While we all love shiny, brand new things, purchasing used equipment can save you hundreds of dollars.
I encourage you to check with the companies listed above when you are in the market for equipment, rather than purchasing from an unknown seller on eBay, Craigslist, etc. The companies I have mentioned above take great care in evaluating and refurbishing their equipment, so why chance it with a random seller on eBay who could end up causing you to lose money if the gear is defective?
These are just a few of the many ways you can stretch your photography budget. We hope these help you!