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When you think of all the myriad of mistakes that are possible to make as a beginner photographer, it might be surprising what the biggest of all might be...
It's buying fancy gear.
Granted, this summation is based purely on the personal opinion of photographer James Popsys, who outlines his argument in the video below.
I have to say that he makes a great point - though having fancy, cutting-edge gear is any photographer's fantasy, in the end, that fancy gear isn't going to help you be a better photographer.
So therein lies the major beginner photography mistake - putting too much importance on the gear you have.
Of course, that's a double-edged sword, too.
For example, if you spend over $3,000 on a top-of-the-line Nikon D850 camera body, which is ludicrously expensive for the vast majority of photographers, not only will you have invested a ton of money in one single piece of kit, but you also likely won't have any money left over for other essentials like a good lens or a solid tripod.
In that regard, the opportunity cost of buying an expensive camera becomes evident - it prevents you from getting other gear you need.
So, that begs the question, how can you avoid this most common photography mistake?
And if you're successful in holding back from investing too heavily in gear, how do you get better at photography?
The answers are quite simple...
Editor's Tip: Have old gear just sitting around? Sell it today and use the money to make smart gear upgrades.
Invest in Education, Not Gear
Take a look at the hashtag #iphoneonly on Instagram and you'll see some incredible, jaw-dropping photos.
Granted, there's a lot of really terrible photos, too, but the point is that you are the key to making great photos, not your gear.
That means that if you want to improve the quality of the photos you take, don't spend $3,000 on a new camera.
Instead, invest in education.
Now, that doesn't mean that you should necessarily run to your local community college and enroll in a photography class right this instant...
There are untold thousands of resources online, many of which are free.
That includes our archives of photography articles, tutorials from pro photographers, YouTube videos, and so forth.
There are also plenty of photography books that offer insights into everything from composition and framing to lighting and post-processing and everything in between.
Spend Time Practicing and Make Smart Gear Upgrades
Another way you can overcome the beginner photography mistake of investing too heavily in gear is to simply use what you already have and use it often.
They don't say that practice makes perfect for nothing, so the more often you're out there with your mobile phone, point-and-shoot, or whatever camera you have, the better your photos will be.
Then, as you gain skills and begin to develop as a photographer, you can begin thinking about making the most crucial upgrades to your equipment.
For example, if you currently shoot with a Canon EOS Rebel T2i, but it works just fine, consider investing in something else, like a quality prime lens like an EF series prime lens.
Better still, if you're smart about the purchases you make, you can use them in the future, even if you get a new camera.
For example, if you upgrade from the Rebel T2i, which is a crop sensor camera, to a Canon EOS 6D, which is a full frame camera, you can still use the EF prime lens you bought.
Likewise, if you invest in a good tripod, it'll last you for years and years, and you can utilize it with whatever camera you decide to upgrade to down the road.
In the end, having nice gear is great, but the key to becoming a better photographer isn't in the camera you're holding.
Instead, if you want to improve the quality of your photos, concentrate on learning the technical aspects of photography like the exposure triangle and depth of field and the creative aspects of photography, like composition.
If you concentrate on developing skills rather than developing a collection of things, you'll be in good shape to avoid beginner photography mistakes.