Why I Treat My $5000 Camera Like Crap

If it means getting the shot, you better believe I’ll risk covering my camera in mud.

There it was…  standing in the dramatic backdrop of Monument Valley in Utah, I saw a mud puddle that was begging for my attention. I knew almost instinctively that I wanted to photograph of my Jeep Wrangler ripping through the muddy puddle at high speed. There are a lot of different ways to approach shooting a scene like that.  Looking at the scene, I knew I wanted to shoot it low and super-wide. Meaning I’d be within a few feet of the Jeep, and my camera would be within inches of the puddle. This shot meant I’d briefly treat my $5000 camera like crap.

Camera’s aren’t cheap, but is your expensive gear getting in the way of you creating?

I visualized a photo in my head that I wanted to create. My photograph involved a fast shutter speed, a Jeep Wrangler, and a lot of mud. I also knew that meant I was probably going to soak my camera with mud flying in all directions. Hailey and I paid for all our gear, no Sony sponsors here, and gear is unreasonably expensive. My camera body $3999, lens $1000, multiplied by two, but we didn’t even hesitate. I gave my buddy the signal, and he drove the Jeep through the water at about 50 km/h from about 2 meters in front of us.

Jeep driving through massive muddy puddle at high speed.

We got the shot. But both of our cameras were absolutely soaked and covered in mud. The thing is, creativity and vision is more important than anything else. Cameras are tools and it’s your job to find a tool that can keep up with your creativity. If your equipment is holding you back and you’re not creating your vision because you’re too afraid to scuff up your camera body, or get mud on your lens, then you’re going about it backwards.

Two photographers hold cameras while covered in mud.

This isn’t an invitation to be wreck-less

I’m not saying to throw your camera off of a cliff with complete disregard. I think you can be a responsible camera owner but also prioritize creativity at the same time. First of all, use the cameras that can keep up with you and your shooting needs. Secondly, insuring your gear will give you a little bit more peace of mind if the worst possible outcome happens.

Re-think what you think you know about your equipment’s limitations.

There’s a general misconception with camera gear and the photography community and that’s that camera’s are sensitive and fragile. Some are more than others, but at the end of the day, these cameras are tools. Start using cameras like the tools that they were designed to be. A lot of camera owners would be surprised to discover their equipment is so much tougher than they think. Tons of professional cameras are weather sealed. That means outdoor elements, such as salt water spray, sand, dust, snow, and sun hardly stand a chance.

Are you willing to go the extra mile to create your shot, even if it means spending a few hours cleaning some dirt and grime off of your gear?

Checkout more articles like this at Life Outside.

Written by Ryan Michael Richardson

Co-Owner / Photographer of Life Outside Studio Contributor at Life Outside Online

2 comments

  1. I think that’s a remarkable shot that you could probably try and sell to Jeep. 😀

    That aside, I understand where some of the sensitivity toward the camera gears come from. Most people don’t/can’t have their gears insured and a lot of people, mostly non-professionals, do not have any backup camera or the budget to buy another one or send it to repairs. So it makes sense many of them would not treat their cameras like shit. 😀

  2. Thank you haha! Totally, don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any position to pull out a claim on my cameras or replace them either. I definitely don’t condone being wreckless with expensive gear. But if you base your gear purchases off of the pre-existing knowledge that you’ll likely abuse it with elements such as dust, dirt, wind, and rain, then you’re ahead of the game. To your point about back-up cameras, if you don’t have one and you really want to take a shot that you feel as though has the potential to damage your gear, take it last. Make sure you have your primary shots, and then take the risky one at the end of your session. You’d be surprised how tough most of our gear is, we just don’t give our equipment enough credit. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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