I have lots of photo swag and plan on showing it off over the course of these next blogs.
free agent | frē ˈājənt | noun a person who does not have any commitments that restrict their actions. • a sports player who is not bound by a contract and so is eligible to join any team.
I’m not even sure there is such a thing as "free agent" in photography. What I do know is I am a free thinker and always willing to look at new equipment or a new way to do things. For the past 45 years, I’ve learned from my many mistakes. I've tried to not repeat any mistakes and I warn others if I see them heading into one of those I've already learned from. If someone with more experience tells me it won’t work, I no longer try to prove them wrong. Unless of course, I have a reason to believe that it can be done a different way.
Disclaimer: These blog entries contain opinionated and potentially divisive statements. These are my options written on my blog. You are my guest and welcomed to your own opinions, in fact, you are encouraged to have them! Please don’t state them here, but consider writing them on your blog. 😉
Why I consider myself a “free agent”
Change - I’ve changed camera manufacturers many times throughout my career. It has never, not one time, been because someone “bought or bribed" me. Because of my job and long run in our industry I’ve been able to borrow or test shoot most any brand of camera, lens or lighting I've had a desire to try. Some were good, many were not. I have even been able to Beta test some equipment for manufacturers, and that is an entirely different subject, but still enjoyable. For a few years, I was the editor of a great online newsletter called ShootSmarter.com, it was owned by a man that taught me much in our profession. Will Crockett encouraged me to not take anything for face value and if I didn't think it was right....stand my ground and question it. I was responsible for the accuracy of the editorial content provided by very well known and established shooters. Many times I questioned what they submitted and would work with them to clarify the data or withhold the posting. For some authors, this wasn't acceptable and caused friction. For others, it strengthened our relationship and I count them as friends to this day.
I buy my own gear so when I change I experience the same pain you do when you make a change. I love that part of my job, suppliers make it very easy to test and even own if I decide it needs to be in my arsenal of tools. The downside of this is the actual change process. You need to get rid of the gear you own and invest in the new line. Depending on how you bought it, new or used, waited for rebates or spontaneously, you will lose some money. Many of my pro shooter friends know this is a part of the process now that we are digital. Gone are the days of buying a Hasselblad and using it for 20+ years, it was a great run for decades, but those days are over. Technology improves at an incredible rate and we need to stay somewhat current or pay the price by adding time to our processing times or frustration level. A friend that is a great shooter recently made the transition from Canon to Sony. He was reluctant because he had been a Canon shooter for so long and he knew the system inside and out. After shooting the Sony he knew it had to be done. He also knew it wouldn't be cheap replacing two pro bodies and half a dozen incredible lenses. As we walked through the process we talked about the financial impact of his decision. He explained that his current system has allowed him to make a great living for the past decade. It has allowed him to make exponentially more than it cost him and that it owed him nothing. To continue using it because it was paid for or because new it cost him $15,000.00 was not even in his thought process. That system was causing him frustration and missed opportunities, he had to make the investment in his business to remain viable.
There is a lack of freedom to change direction or allegiance when you are “sponsored” by one company. In fact, it is almost impossible to experiment with other gear to see if there may be a better mousetrap. That only hurts you and your ability to produce great images if you aren't willing to experiment and try new gear or new techniques. We know who the "sponsored" shooters are. We also know there are writers that change their allegiance to whoever will give them the newest, latest, greatest ________. I've heard these people referred to as "photo hoes." In other words, they can be bought pretty easily. They exchange their integrity for free gear. I don't understand that and never will.
I plan on taking a few pages to talk about some of the changes we've seen recently and not so recently. I will explore changes in cameras, lenses and lighting. There are trends and there may be some surprises. There is also fact and there is fiction. There are people that will accept whatever a certain YouTuber presents as fact because of the number of subscribers they have. I think that is a pretty dangerous policy. Numbers can give you some validity, but they don't make you infallible! God gave you a brain, use it or lose it! I'll include some images to demonstrate why I like what is available and how it's working for me.
I hope I've told you enough that you will want to check back and read my impressions and look at some images that will demonstrate why I feel like I do. Thanks for coming by, I hope you'll come back.