Is there an inexpensive way to practice photography?

I’ve often joked that there’s no problem in photography that a lot of money can’t solve, but is there an inexpensive way to learn and practice photography? The answer is yes and no. It depends on the type of photography you are interested in and the level to which you aspire.

If you’re just a hobbyist, you can find inexpensive places to learn how to take photos.

There are online forums such as Facebook Photography Groups that not only display their members’ images, but also offer photography tips and advice, virtually free. Some offer meet-and-greets and photo walks so you can put your newfound knowledge into practice. Local photo/camera clubs may offer the same and many hold monthly contests for their members to compete against each other. There is usually a nominal fee for joining these groups.

Photographer Whitney Ramirez takes photos of people attending the

If you want to take it to the next level, community colleges can offer great photography courses at a reasonable cost. If you’re inspired to pursue photography as a career, there are four-year photography colleges and schools that offer photography degrees, which are more expensive. The higher the level you want to reach, the more money it will cost you.

Equipment is the biggest expense in photography. When you’re new to photography, one of the cheapest avenues is to simply use your phone. While smartphones can cost anywhere from several hundred to over $1,000, most people get them for communication and internet connectivity in addition to their camera features, so the cost is spread across different uses. .

A visitor takes photos at the Field of Light at Sensorio art installation by artist Bruce Munro on August 3, 2019. The exhibit consists of more than 58,800 LED lights on rods nestled in a gently sloping ravine a few miles outside of Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County.

But for many people, they are the main imaging devices and they are used like the old point-and-shoot digital cameras. For this reason, you can buy a point-and-shoot for a few hundred dollars to as little as $50. With either, there are limits to the control you have, but you can still learn a lot about composition and lighting.

Next up are DSLRs and mirrorless digital cameras, which range from several hundred dollars for entry-level equipment to several thousand dollars for professional-grade equipment. You can cover some of the costs by getting used equipment. Although they may not have the latest gadgets, used cameras can work almost as well as new ones.

Record photographer Clifford Oto photographs the football championship game between St. Mary's High and Pleasant Grove High from Elk Grove on December 13, 2008.

The highest costs can come from different genres of photography. While a portrait photographer only needs a modest camera and lens, wildlife and sports photographers will likely need very expensive telephoto lenses that will bring action and subjects closer, especially in harsh conditions. low light. Portrait painters, however, will likely spend their money on expensive lighting equipment.

So for beginners, start small. Use a smartphone or a compact camera and join a photo club or group of photographers. Then, when you feel the need to expand your abilities, maybe upgrade to an entry level or use a DSLR and take a class or two. By the time you’re ready to make photography a career, if you’re so inspired, buying equipment and professional development won’t seem so much like an expense as an investment.

Record photographer Clifford Oto has photographed Stockton and San Joaquin County for over 36 years. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram @Recordnet. Follow his blog at recordnet.com/otoblog. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at https://www.recordnet.com/subscribenow.

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