When it comes to outfitting yourself with photography gear, there's a lot that can go wrong.
On the one hand, there's an overwhelming variety of photography gear, from camera bodies and lenses to tripods and camera remotes. There's even dozens of types of camera bags to choose from.
We're certainly not lacking for choice, that's for sure.
But as a beginner photographer, it's easy to get overwhelmed by all the choices, and making decisions when you're overwhelmed usually doesn't work out.
To help you out, I've put together three gear mistakes I've committed that you need to try to avoid.
Don't Skimp on Your Camera Bag
If you could see the trail of bad camera bags I've had over the years, you'd probably be both horrified and maybe a little impressed too...
When I started out, I was convinced that the camera bag I used was the least important accessory. After all, I just needed something to carry my gear from one point to the next.
What I didn't consider is two very important factors - the safety of my gear and my personal comfort carrying it.
You've probably heard the phrase "you get what you pay for," and you've probably heard it used when describing other photography gear like lenses or filters.
But that phrase also applies to camera bags.
If you buy something cheap, it will feel cheap, it won't last long, and it will be uncomfortable to carry. Trust me on this.
That's why it's imperative that you invest in a high-quality camera bag right from the get go, like the Holdfast Fundy Streetwise bag pictured above and below.
Like all great camera bags, the Fundy Streetwise bag offers the pinnacle of construction, so it's durable and will stand up to the daily abuses of carrying your gear from one shoot to the next.
The sheepskin interior offers your gear the height of padding and protection, so you're sure your gear is safe and sound, even on the bumpiest of rides. Heck, sheepskin is naturally flame-retardant and water-resistant, so if things get really crazy, your gear will still be protected.
Outside, the bag is made of waxed canvas, so when it starts to rain or snow, you can rest assured that the bag's contents won't be harmed.
It's a versatile bag too - wear it as a shoulder bag or as part of the Holdfast MoneyMaker system for extended versatility and comfort.
There's even optional pouches you can add to the bag - a lens pouch, a water bottle pouch, and a wallet.
In other words, this thing is purpose-built to last you a long time and expand with you as your needs change.
Plus, in the end, if you spend a little more up front on a great camera bag that will last you forever, you'll end up avoiding the same trail of destroyed, cheap bags that I had - and you'll probably save money in the process too!
Don't Thumb Your Nose at Using a Flash
I think most photographers are acutely aware that the quality of natural light - especially at golden hour - is far superior to that of artificial lighting.
And though I certainly strive to use natural lighting whenever I can, there's something to be said for being comfortable using a flash.
The heart of the issue is that a lot of photographers just aren't comfortable using a flash. And by flash, I definitely do not mean the pop-up one on your camera...
Having a solid off-camera flash like the Yongnuo YN-560 IV shown above opens up all sorts of possibilities for lighting everything from an indoor portrait to an outdoor macro shot to even using fill lighting in the foreground of a landscape or outdoor portraits.
In other words, having an external flash for your camera opens up all sorts of possibilities for your photography that just aren't available to you with the on-camera flash or no flash at all.
If you need more convincing, see this flash in action in the video above by Gary Gough as he uses it to improve the quality of an outdoor portrait.
Don't Buy a Brand New Camera
When I first started in photography the first thing I did was buy a brand new crop sensor camera.
I didn't understand at the time that had I just done a little shopping around and considered a used camera that I could have gotten a much nicer crop sensor camera or even a full frame camera for about the same price.
Buying a new camera is a lot like buying a new car - it's a great feeling, and you like the smell and the feel of something new - but you get much more bang for your buck if you buy used.
For example, let's say you want a small DSLR like the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 pictured above. If you go to the Canon store, you'll find a price tag of about $550.
But, if you look for a used camera, you'll find you can save a couple hundred dollars on an SL1 that's been used, but that's in like new condition.
Think about it - if you buy used, you have $200 or so to spend on getting a better lens, an upgraded tripod, extra batteries and memory cards, and so on.
Or, you can opt to spring for a more advanced camera with that extra money, like a Canon EOS 70D shown above.
The point is that a brand new camera isn't going to help you take better pictured than a used one that's in great condition.
Had I known then what I know now, I never would have sprung for that brand new camera, and I would have instead opted to buy used and put that savings toward upgraded gear.
Hindsight is 20/20, right? But my loss is your gain!