Lo and behold: my first digital camera was a Nikon Coolpix 2100 with my trusted Ritz Camera 96mb ComptactFlash card all bought in 2003.
While I currently shoot with a much fancier set up nowadays, this thing was loaded with features back then:
Yup, 2 megapixels was BIG back then in addition to the whopping 14 scene modes (that I never used by the way—even the ones that are still offered today in all point and shoot cameras).
While my digital photography “career” began in teen clubs taking event photos, I can say I’m grateful for learning photography from this $249 camera.
Here are 5 Photography Lessons I learned thanks to this camera:
1. Limitations are an advantage.
I remember shooting with this camera with flash and it would take about 14 seconds to recycle the flash to be ready for another shot. What did I do with those 14 seconds when I was shooting in a dark club? I moved to the next location and was ready to shoot the next shot.
Point is: Take advantage of what you’re not provided with. No macro lens? Focus on the wider angle that you can provide. No flash? Learn to produce the best photography with available light.
2. Prepare for your shortcomings.
This camera ate batteries like chips—I learned quickly that I’d go through at least 3 sets of AA batteries a night so I had with me at least 6 sets of AA batteries. Then I discovered the wonderful technology of rapid charge rechargeable batteries. They were expensive so I could only afford 1 set of 4 AA batteries. So what did I do? I’d bring the battery recharger with me, spot an outlet before the event started, and kept cycling the batteries until I was done for the night.
Point is: No excuse to not complete your job. Prepare for the “in case of emergency” scenarios. What’s in my camera case other than camera gear and backup camera gear? First aid kit, ibuprofen, flashlight, a granola bar, and a multi function screwdriver.
3. Handle with care.
This Nikon 2100 was my gem and I treated it like that. I started a small “company” with friends to do coverage of events and so I had to loan out this camera to them at times. I definitely gave them a hard time on using it that’s for sure (i.e. the wrist strap must be worn at all times). But I also learned to develop a workflow to ensure that the images went from being taken, to being stored and backed up, and then being published online. While I handled the camera carefully, I learned quickly that the images were the gems.
Point is: It’s ok to be anal about your gear being protected (it is bought with your money so you have every right to). But even more importantly, learn a workflow that works for you from backing up your images to building your audience with your work.
4. Understand what matters most.
When I was taking photos in the club, I learned that the teens didn’t care how the photos turned out as there was a slim chance of them seeing it (yes, Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, etc did not exist yet). Instead, when they saw that orange focus beam emit, they gravitated toward the camera like moths, showed even more energy and had more fun. They simply just wanted to be photographed.
Point is: People want to be treated like star every now and then. Being professional in this field doesn’t just mean that you come away with great photos because that’s a given. What matters most is ensuring that your subjects are treated well beyond anyone else: you truly need to make your subject matter.
5. Own your work.
I didn’t complain with my limitations of a 2 megapixel and 14 second flash recharge camera with a 96mb card. I continued to produce photos the best I could and when it became time to publish it online, I was proud of it because I felt I produced it with my best abilities.
Point is: No one will care why you didn’t produce your best work. Once your photography is published on the web, there really is no room to explain what you could have done to make it better. Instead, ensure that whatever you put out, it is something you are proud of it and produced with your best ability. Simply put, own your work.
I hope you enjoyed this post and am looking forward to being more active once again on blogging. If you read all the way up to here and came from a Facebook/Twitter link, thank you for taking the time to read it!
P.S. That 96mb CompactFlash card from Ritz Camera? It costed me $96+ in 2003. Crazy right?! Here's what you can get with that money today.