Photography is, for many people, a bottomless pit. This is especially true when all you do is look at the equipment cost. You will want to expand your toolbox of photography stuff not because it makes you look legit but rather because it makes you do more stuff. At least that's the idea.
We should really let go of the bottomless pit analogy and, instead, realize that photography is actually a boundless horizon. You just have to look and see where this horizon leads.
Here are some suggestions:
Try not to be Donkey
Donkey who? You know, that donkey from the Shrek series of movies. If you remember the first movie when Shrek wanted to get rid of him, he was told to go back to his own friends. Donkey replied, "But I don't have any friends."
Why is this an important thing? Photography need not be a one-person activity even if you're a bit of a loner. It's good to find an honest enough person to hang around. That way, you always have a person on whom you can bounce off ideas. For example, say you want to try doing some HDR stuff. You take a shot, and another one, and another one, and another one, and more after that. A true friend will tell you to try something more, something else. Try to avoid the "yes man."
More, having someone along will not only give you another source of opinions but that person can actually grow with you. You can try stuff together. For one thing, let's say you're trying to learn to use your flash and your camera is able to fire an external flash without any need for any other doodad. It defeats the purpose if all you do is have the external flash near you. Have the other person hold the flash in other areas you can't reach like behind your subject.
Try new places
Many people will keep shooting in the same place all the time. There's not much wrong there especially if you're talking about rather picturesque areas like Pagudpud, Batanes, Bataan, etc. If you haven't gone to a new place in a while, this is your chance. Just go.
A car will be good since it can keep your stuff safe but a motorcycle will force you to be lean in terms of equipment and will take you to tight spots a car can't possible go. What about a bike? Another conveyance that forces you to go lean and it has the really good advantage of being less obtrusive, less noisy, healthy, and slow enough for you to enjoy the view. The bike does require some good legs for you to get some real distance. Suggestion? Bring a car and have a bike in the back (maybe a foldable one?).
No vehicle? Take a bus, take shots in the bus, take shots as soon as you get off, take shots while you walk. Not bad, right?
Try new equipment
This has to come up, right? It's not a bad thing either. You really will get a new perspective on things just by using a new lens, a flash, or even a new camera.
Let's start with the lens. One thing that we will eventually be talking about more in the coming weeks is the use of manual focus lenses. Another great thing about this whole digital SLR popularity is the fact that some older stuff has become so cheap that you just have to try it. Also, the whole retro thing comes into play.
Whether you use a Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, or Sony, there are adapters you can buy so that you can use lenses that are say, 40 even 50 years old. Why they hell will you want to do that? Because it's available. Because it's fun. Because it can be so darn cheap. For example, an auto focus wide angle lens for your DSLR can cost more than Php15,000. If you go the manual focus route, you can easily get a lens for around a third that price. Yes, you don't get auto focus but you get to train your eye to see what's in focus.
Another thing to try is the use of a flash. Yes, you may have a flash already built-in but there are so many things you can do with an external flash that just can't be done with the built-in kind. What's also good is that, though your camera manufacturer's flash is still best, you can easily get a much, much cheaper flash that will teach you (again) manual control. If you're lucky, you can get a second hand, powerful,non-TTL (a non-automatic model) for less than Php3,000. What's so good about these things? You learn to read light using your head rather than rely all the time on your camera and it introduces you to the use of studio flashes. For those of you who've never worked with the big studio units, these things have to be set to specific power levels - full blast, half power, one-fourth power, one-eighth, etc. You get to try this experience cheap.
Try a new camera
This can be rather expensive, that's true, but if you can manage it, it may be a good thing to do. (Take note: may be.)
Those of you who've never gone full frame before should at least try it. You don't need to buy the camera actually. You can borrow first. (Remember the friend we were talking about earlier?) Also, the first generation full frame models like the Canon 5D are much, much cheaper now. Is a 5D Mark III better and is there a 5D Mark IV on the horizon? Of course. But if you're just in the trying new things stage, no real point in buying - yet.
More next week.