As a professional photographer with over 16 years hands on experience dealing with an array or clients, both large and small from local to international, I embarked on sharing my knowledge and decided in 20009 to set up a photography school for those individuals wishes to explore their passions in photography as a hobby or a career option. I decided to share some relevant information to assist all like-minded individuals intending to explore and be a part of this wonderful journey. We have all been through an experience some time in our lives in making large decisions that we know very little about when it comes to setup and costs involved We all have a budget to work with and have felt the stress and anxiety when laying out large sums of money on a start-up. I will be providing useful tips as to which camera gear is essential in order to move forward when making your choices. My goal is also to empower you to be able to be confident that what you put in, you will get out.  I trust that the insights that I can provide through my experience and knowledge will be insightful to you as the doors of perception and creativity will unleash your creativity with no looking back.

What to consider first up when looking for the perfect camera set up

Do your homework by reading and asking all the questions that come to mind to like minded people in this field. Avoid walking straight into a camera store with your wallet and expect honesty and commitment from a salesman. Unfortunately, as their name indicates, they are just sales people, their intention is to make a sale and that is that. You need to walk in with an idea in mind and some knowledge on what you are looking to buy from your researched shortlist.

How to make a shortlist and narrow down the options when deciding which camera ticks all the right boxes

Firstly, decided on what you want to get into photography, hobby or career as you obviously you enjoy it, Try move deeper into what direction you are intending to follow, and if possible, the type of photography you are wanting to capture.

Many people refer something light and compact  that fits an “on the go’ style, while others will prefer to delve into exploring and understanding how the settings work and what they can do to improve the shot, the same will apply to the lenses Don’t be fooled by the cosmetic look, or how many features the camera might offer, nor what is hight lighted in the advert. Your camera is a tool, so it must feel right in your hand, you must feel comfortable with how the dials and buttons are positioned as well as be confident that the navigation is similar to the way in which your mind works. All cameras do offer the same kind of settings, the navigation just differs, like iPhone verses Android, a totally different experience, yet both are mobile phones with very similar features and apps.

Have a realistic budget in mind as cameras and lenses are costly. I  make it very clear to my students to focus on quality, not quantity. So identify your needs first. You will never keep up with the growth of technology, so don’t get trapped in the “consumerism society of the must haves …” of always needing the latest gadget. If you find that what you need is not the latest and only available pre owned, have it checked out and go for it. There are many great preowned deals to be had, especially in these economic times, either for semi-professional or professional use.

A few pointers to research would be to look at a full frame system, research what lens you will need as a start to move forward with in your photography, lenses are expensive, but are actually the most important piece of gear in your kit, decide on the lens mount you want as well as the range.  Try avoid a start-up entry level kit and believing you will flourish and move forward, the starter kits are an absolute wate of time and money, the lenses are complete junk and worthless. Trust me, on this, not the camera sales man. My advise is to attend a short photography course for beginners where all camera gear is provided and your interests are assessed accordingly. This way, making the choice will be clear and more straight forward.

How much should I budget for as a beginner Photographer

Rather buy right first time if you are serious about wanting to learn to take great photos.  This might involve a bit of financial thought ad juggling, but you will certainly not regret it. To buy everything you need is not always possible at the same time, but I suggest you start with a good, even a second hand pro lens, then a decent  body that has the features to meet your needs and feels right in your hands. Being able to find and use the settings effectively will make all the difference. As I previously suggested, rather go for a quality preowned intermediate older camera than an entry level new one that will disappoint every way from build to quality of hardware, to the way it performs. Rather than try save, buy right, it will be cheaper  and prove to offer the experience you are wanting in the long run.

Is mirrorless the only way forward…

Remember, media and advertising is there for one reason alone and that is to convert a want into a need. All camera brands, along with the transition from shutter to mirrorless are pushing hard. Consumers are actually being brainwashed to favour the mirrorless and turn away from the shutter option. Again, with this being the case, camera stores are also enforcing this to the consumer through the sales team. Makes sense hey…

Don’t be fooled and led to believe this is always true. One needs to again question themselves and their requirements as a photographer. Certain genres such as sport and bird watching will benefit from the tracking feature in most top end mirrorless, but that is it. I would suggest that if you cannot afford the top end models like the Canon r5 or r3, rather stay with a DSLR. Great news is that the pro models like the canon 5D Mk4 as well as the pro lenses are now going at give away prices. It is almost a no brainer, so be careful not to be sucked in.

Suggested Courses and workshops that will benefit a beginner or an intermediate photographer in Cape Town

If you just want to learn the basics, the Know Your Camera workshop is a crash course learning how your camera works in manual, using the settings correctly and taking great photos in a two-hour session. (Weekdays at 10.30am or 2.30pm – subject to availability at time of confirmation).

Very popular is the short Beginner to Pro Course, tailored according to student requirements and interests on weekdays on a 121 flexible basis, as well as a monthly Saturday small group option – all camera gear is provided for this course along with personal guidance that best suits the needs and budget of the students. On completion, students will receive certification to assist them moving forward in reaching their goals.

For intermediate and advanced photographers wishing to specialise in a specific area, 121 tailored workshops include  Flash & Lighting, Outdoor Photography, Post-Production & Editing, Portraiture and Fashion Photography, providing a practical exercise in a full studio setup. (Weekdays at 10.30am or 2.30pm – subject to availability at time of confirmation).


To conclude, I would suggest that you get started in living the life instead of dreaming about it.