I’m 24 years old, out of college and trying to work with professional photographers. Veterans, who’ve worked for years, honing their skills, gathering the high-end equipment. I often find myself not being taken seriously because of my age, or because I don’t have the most expensive toys.
A few weeks ago, I get the opportunity to go to the GNAC championships held at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon. Odds were that I wouldn’t be allowed to go inside the competition area.
Before heading down to the meet, I was talking to my friend Kim, I asked if I could borrow his Canon 70-200mm 2.8L IS lens. I was surprised he said yes, as is it’s a $2,200 lens.
Upon arriving at the stadium, I attempted to get credentials. “Who sent you?” I fibbed… “Uhh… Western Oregon?” he looks at the camera, “Cool.” And I was in.
That’s kind of how it went all weekend. People saw the lens and didn’t hassle me. Another photographer even stopped me and asked “is that the 2.8?” “Yeah.” “Nice.” And he walked away.
It was nice being taken seriously for a while. Although I learned a few lessons… first off, I let myself get distracted by watching my friends compete. I stuck mostly to pole vault instead of covering the event. This really hampered the variety of shots I had to go through. 64 gigs and even I got sick of pole vault pics… this may go with the first, but I did not take it as seriously as I should have. I need to enjoy the shoot while still representing myself as a professional and delivering good product. That way I’m looked at as a professional because I am one, not because I have a big lens.
As far as the lens goes… I was in heaven. I typically don’t like my camera to be on anything other than manual. But due to rapidly changing light, and fast moving subjects I had to rely on the camera’s brains a little more. I put the lens on autofocus also. This is typically a huge no-no to me. I would NEVER use autofocus for film. But photography… with this lens? Oh man. It was so blindingly fast and accurate. I was lusting a bit. That’s also probably why my trigger finger got so heavy. This lens will be in my kit someday.
As for the quality of the pictures: I still find myself frustrated and not liking my results. They were good, using them just for coverage and such, giving pictures to the competitors. But I got a little cranky when I was searching for stuff for my increasingly dusty portfolio.
All in all, it was good practice. I learned some things. And as for being taken seriously: if you’re young and have a nice camera, expect people to not think much of you. But have a huge lens and get their attention. Size DOES matter. However, I will continue to learn and improve. I’d rather be known for the quality of my work, not for the kit I’m packing.