Being a photographer, you'd expect me to work with a nice DSLR or even a quality film camera. I do have a DSLR, but for a while, I was without my Canon and had to settle for my shitty phone camera because it was in a pawn shop.
This was an unfortunate and embarrassing circumstance, but my husband and I were in a tight spot one month so I decided to get a loan on my camera to help us pay rent. It's not the smartest thing to do, but sometimes it was the only option.
So why am I telling you this?
Because this small act turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I love my camera, and parting with it for an undetermined amount of time while we got back on our feet made me sick with a sadness I can't quite describe.
All my ideas for photoshoots had to be put on hold. All the props I bought and spent time curating were going to just sit there collecting dust.
I tried executing my ideas with my cellphone, but let's just say I don't have an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, or Google Pixel. My phone is just the nicest option I could get in my price range that didn't require a ridiculous down payment.
I was fine with getting this phone because a phone's a phone and I had gotten used to only taking pictures using my nice Canon.
This made me feel even more disappointed and it frustrated me creatively, but like always, the urge to take photos was still in me burning strong.
So I started taking some snapshots here and there of things I found intriguing while I was out and about. It wasn't at all the same style I had started to develop with my DSLR.
There were no more fanciful pictures of flowers, glistening backgrounds, and interesting lighting. Now there was graffiti you wish wasn't there, desolate warehouse districts on the weekend, and clever messages throughout the city.
I was hesitant about sharing any of this noisy low-quality work online because it totally disrupted the aesthetic I worked so hard to create, but after a while, I didn't care.
I realized that this is what art is all about; rolling with the punches and experimenting.
It didn't take long until I became immensely proud of the images I was capturing on my crappy phone and started messing around with them in Lightroom and Photoshop.
As I tweaked things and messed around more and more I stumbled upon a process and visual aesthetic that felt right for me. Eventually, I created a style that I absolutely love and resonates with me.
It turns out the graininess and low-quality of the photos perfectly complimented my overall message which is turning the mundane into magic.
On top of that, it really made me hone my skills with lighting, exposure, working with a flash, and editing in Lightroom and Photoshop. I used these before, but it wasn't until I started working with my phone camera that I really started experimenting and becoming confident.
While I'm definitely happy to have my camera back, I also appreciate the months where I didn't have it because it really helped me discover my artistic vision and the message I was trying to create even better than before.
I always wanted to draw attention to the little details no one notices, and I always had an appreciation for the unappealing features of city life, but I didn't have the vision I have today. I didn't see what I see now. I didn't understand the things I understand now, and I owe it all to my shitty camera.
So if whether you're a pro photographer, amateur, or whatever else you want to call yourself, don't wait to get the most expensive camera. Just start creating. Ultimately, that's what matters the most.
You could have the priciest equipment in the world, but if you don't it shouldn't hold you back from doing what you really love. It can help you understand photography and yourself more than you think.