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Archive 2012 · Moving into a bit of paid work faster than I expected, lo...
  
 
zwilliamson
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Moving into a bit of paid work faster than I expected, looking for some gear advice


Sorry if this rambles a bit...about a year and a half ago, I bought my first 'serious' camera, a 60D, for film making. I quickly picked up a couple lenses and started using it to shoot at work and some projects for school (I'm a senior COMM/Film student at Northeastern). Through my office, I picked up paid freelance video work, and earlier this year I decided to purchase a used 5Dmk2 on FM. Since then, I've started working at a different company, in a completely different role, that doesn't really involve shooting stills or video. However, I'm on the varsity rowing team at NU, so I have a lot of friends on other teams. I've been photographing my own team over the last year and those images attracted enough attention through facebook that I had requests to shoot my friends games. I went to a friend's volleyball game in September with my 60D and 70-200 f/2.8 IS II and got some okay results--but still very amateurish. However, since big white L glass tends to attract attention, the sports editor of NU's paper approached me and asked if I would shoot for them. Then the athletic department saw some of my images, where I captured great moments from the game, and asked if I would share the pictures. Seeing an opportunity to start a relationship here, I purchased a 7D used and sold my 60D the next week. I've been shooting for the paper on a weekly basis, and the athletic compliance office just cleared me for compensation when I shoot for the SID. (There were all kinds of potential compliance problems because I am currently an a D1 team)

While the images I get are ok to pretty good with the 7D 70-200 f/2.8 combo, if I am going to be paid as the primary shooter for games, I think I need to pick up some additional gear. I do have a paid full time job, though the money isn't enough to pick up anything new. I don't know whether this is something I want to do full time, but I want to deliver the best images I can. I'll try and post some of my work up to this point soon. I've only felt limited by my current gear shooting field sports, especially night games. I'm trying to decide whether it's worth the investment right now.

Sorry this was a bit long; everything is moving a kind of fast with this. I'm trying to learn as much and as quickly as I can, while still delivering good images. I realize it's totally ridiculous to make the jump from guy with a camera to 'real' photographer in a matter of months, just trying to figure out how I can do it right.



Oct 24, 2012 at 03:03 AM
dankopp
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Moving into a bit of paid work faster than I expected, looking for some gear advice


I'm only a "semi-pro," but I see plenty of pros using 7Ds. I use a 5DIII and a 7D. I am sure you are going to get a bunch of suggestions to buy a used 1D mark whatever, but I would focus on (1) lenses and (2) having a backup body (if you are being paid to shoot, you should be prepared in case your camera breaks, plus you don't have to change lenses constantly).

Your 70-200 is ideal for indoor sports, but you are going to need a longer lens too for the field sports. Perhaps the 300 f4? Of course there are better options, but they are MUCH more expensive. Or, at a minimum, you could pick up an extender for the 70-200.



Oct 24, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Russ Isabella
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Moving into a bit of paid work faster than I expected, looking for some gear advice


zwilliamson wrote:
.... I'm trying to decide whether it's worth the investment right now.


It is never a smart move to pump money into equipment in the hopes of reaching a level of shock and awe with your work that will launch a relationship that is providing a little bit of money into one that will pay your bills for you. The SID and newspaper seem quite happy to use the photos you provided with your previous camera. Quite honestly, better photos (assuming you could get them with more expensive equipment) aren't going to change anything. I can relate to the thinking that, in effect, has you chasing after a carrot you imagine those asking for your images are holding out there for you. In my experience, there really is no carrot, and therefore, the more you chase after it, the more frustrated you will become. Just go with what you have and see where this leads you.



Oct 24, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Fish On
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Moving into a bit of paid work faster than I expected, looking for some gear advice


+1 on Russ's advice about the "carrot".


Oct 24, 2012 at 03:22 PM
zwilliamson
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Moving into a bit of paid work faster than I expected, looking for some gear advice


Russ, thanks for the advice. I really like the carrot analogy, it definitely describes my gear lust haha. I really want to avoid being just a guy with a camera. It would be nice to have a back up body with better AF than my 5Dmk2...though I grabbed it by accident the other day and was able to shoot a women's hockey game with it; never making that mistake again though.


Oct 24, 2012 at 03:41 PM
dankopp
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Moving into a bit of paid work faster than I expected, looking for some gear advice


zwilliamson wrote:
Russ, thanks for the advice. I really like the carrot analogy, it definitely describes my gear lust haha. I really want to avoid being just a guy with a camera. It would be nice to have a back up body with better AF than my 5Dmk2...though I grabbed it by accident the other day and was able to shoot a women's hockey game with it; never making that mistake again though.


Sorry, I skipped over the part that you already have a backup body. I know the 5D2 isn't ideal, but it'll work. And I wish Russ had responded before I did, because his advice is spot on.



Oct 24, 2012 at 04:02 PM
 

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zwilliamson
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Moving into a bit of paid work faster than I expected, looking for some gear advice


Thanks. yeah, Russ definitely gave me a bit of a reality check. I good thing is that I'll be spending most of my time shooting this winter inside shooting basketball, hockey, and track. Maybe I'll pick up a 135 f/2 or 85 f/1.8 and go from there. I'm definitely picking up one of the new GoPro Hero3's; that could be a cool remote cam behind the net or next to the pole vault 12mp 30fps burst

Thanks!



Oct 24, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Caleb Williams
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Moving into a bit of paid work faster than I expected, looking for some gear advice


The best advise I can give you is learn to use your equipment to the best of your ability.

I've talked to professional photojournalists that couldn't tell you what camera they are using, but they sure knew how to use it well. Trust me, having a 1DmkIV/1DX or D3s/D4 doesn't make you a good photographer. I've seen the results of people with those pro bodies with 400mm 2.8 glass and those people couldn't come up the same results that many of the guys on FM could do with a Digital Rebel and a 70-300mm zoom lens.

It took my 5+ years to upgrade to 1D series bodies and believe me that 1D shaped "carrot" was staring me in the face each and everyday.

I would consider yourself lucky to have the both the newspaper and the SID appreciate your work and have both pay you for it. I wasn't as fortunate, working for little or no pay as a student cutting my teeth in collegiate sports.

As to whether or not you need more gear or not, that's up to you to decide. Nobody can make that decision for you. It's easy for any us to say, well (just to use an example here) a 300mm f4 would make a great lens for you, but it's your money to spend. I had a friend that would hypothetically spend my money while I was in college and this is when I probably had about $100 to my name in cash and very little in assets other than a camera and a computer.

My advise is to rent a few lens you would like to use. If that's a 300mm lens or a 135mm lens or an 85mm lens, rent it first.

I've used each of those lenses and they are all great at their own thing, but I can't tell you which one to get other than you already have those focal lengths covered with the 70-200mm.

- Caleb



Oct 25, 2012 at 01:44 PM
zwilliamson
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Moving into a bit of paid work faster than I expected, looking for some gear advice


Caleb, thanks for the advice. I guess I didn't mention it earlier, but I've done all of this work without pay up until now. I'm excited even for a bit of compensation from the SID, the newspaper is attribution only.

I've had the chance to rent a couple lenses thus far, and really liked shooting with the 135 f/2. I've looked at the 300 f/4, the only problem is whether it is fast enough to shoot at my school's rink; but I can shoot against the glass with a more affordable and faster prime if I get another lens.

I don't want to seem like I was equating more expensive gear to automatically getting better photos, I'm very much aware that I have a lot yet still to learn. I guess I'm trying to figure out what, if anything I need to capture the best photos I can for my clients.

I appreciate the advice guys!



Oct 25, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Caleb Williams
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Moving into a bit of paid work faster than I expected, looking for some gear advice


zwilliamson wrote:
Caleb, thanks for the advice. I guess I didn't mention it earlier, but I've done all of this work without pay up until now. I'm excited even for a bit of compensation from the SID, the newspaper is attribution only.

Don't worry, most of us have been there. I did an unpaid internship that was attribution only. The best news is generally speaking as long as you're proactive about it, you can usually raise your pay as you feel you are worth more. (I'm not a regular DI level shooter yet, so you have me there).

zwilliamson wrote:
I've had the chance to rent a couple lenses thus far, and really liked shooting with the 135 f/2. I've looked at the 300 f/4, the only problem is whether it is fast enough to shoot at my school's rink; but I can shoot against the glass with a more affordable and faster prime if I get another lens.

Depending on the rink, shooting over the glass with a 300 or a 300+1.4 (if you have a enough light) works well. A lot of DI schools have strobes in their hockey arenas (well I guess I'm hypothesizing here). Does yours, can you shoot with them?

I'm glad you're trying the gear first too. For some shooters, they love one lens, but for another shooter, they can't fathom using that lens.

zwilliamson wrote:
I don't want to seem like I was equating more expensive gear to automatically getting better photos, I'm very much aware that I have a lot yet still to learn. I guess I'm trying to figure out what, if anything I need to capture the best photos I can for my clients.

The good news is that you have cameras with high MP counts so you have some leeway in cropping too.



Oct 25, 2012 at 05:12 PM
zwilliamson
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Moving into a bit of paid work faster than I expected, looking for some gear advice


Caleb Williams wrote:
Don't worry, most of us have been there. I did an unpaid internship that was attribution only. The best news is generally speaking as long as you're proactive about it, you can usually raise your pay as you feel you are worth more. (I'm not a regular DI level shooter yet, so you have me there).

Being a senior on Northeastern's Rowing team has allowed me to get to know a lot of the NU SID guys over the past couple years. That and one of my buddies is interning with the department. I'm trying to carefully use the personal connection, there are a couple of other photographers who shoot for NU, and I want to make sure I'm not inadvertently stepping on someone's toes. It's kind of ironic that I'm asking about gear, because the big white 70-200 is what caught the sports editor's eye in the first place haha.

Caleb Williams wrote:
Depending on the rink, shooting over the glass with a 300 or a 300+1.4 (if you have a enough light) works well. A lot of DI schools have strobes in their hockey arenas (well I guess I'm hypothesizing here). Does yours, can you shoot with them?

As far as I know Northeastern Matthews Area is not outfitted with strobes. I do have a couple speed lights, not sure of they would be powerful enough though. I'd have to check with the department. For shooting ove the glass, it is nice to have a crop sensor body, the 320 f/2.8 equivalent on the long end of the 70-200 is usually enough with a bit of cropping to get wider action shots; I might try renting a 1.4x and seeing what that does to performance, but the extra reach would be nice. I've been shooting hockey around 1/640 3.2 iso1600 as is...need to decide if it's worth it to give up a full stop.



Oct 25, 2012 at 05:40 PM





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