I've been thinking to get my hands on a Wacom Cintiq for a while now. You know (or maybe not): those really fancy tablets where you draw directly on after you connect it to your computer? Awesome right?! Imagine those masking details! And the possibilities! And the speed you could retouch! And ... well ... that price of 700+ Euros minimum.
Right. That price. So that was something. Do I want to spend a minimum of 700 Euros on an awesome piece of gear while I have a very big & decent (second hand) Imac at home where I can see my work in high resolution and retouch pretty fast with my trusted Bamboo Tablet (actually my boyfriends ... I broke mine a while ago because with my butterfly mind, I decided to throw my drawing pen in the dirty water of my dishes ... woops).
I think that little story basically sums up how I feel about gear. I'm not a gear-person. Never have been and if I do hype about something it's probably because of my own snobism as photographer that drools over the quality of color that comes out of it (I discovered the joy of shooting on a Digital Hassleblad at school and gosh those photos looked so beautiful <3 ... I did found out the price of it as well and I think I became a bit hesistant to use it as I was and still am so clumsy! ... I didn't break it though. But nobody except me was allowed to use it!).
I'm going to be honest: I do have a brand new 5D Mark III right now but that was because my very trusted and very old 5D Mark I decided to die (I kept using it for almost a year though, my lcd screen would just constantly pixelated and I would have to shake my camera kinda violently on set ... even with clients around ... to see if it all worked out). I had so many cameras , at one point I could only use borrowed ones because I didn't had one, before I got one from my parents. That was only because I started studying photography (my sister has it now for her studies). The only reason I got that second hand full-frame was because I could buy it for like ... 700 Euros from a friend? So yeah. Quick decision for me back then! Even as student.
So all that second hand gear and borrowing and just diy'ing and winging my way out of all situations has brought me a very long way (even into the early steps of my career right now) as freelance professional. It's a great way of working and it's one of the first thing I teach every single student of mine: you don't need a lot of gear to make epic things (fyi: I only use a Canon 50mm f1.4 as lens. Thats all I got! And my camera of course. Works amazing. My studio ain't much bigger and better as I never had much money to buy all the crazy stuff the big people use). I'm a big speaker for keeping it budget and simple. Because of that and especially because of that I'm one of those people that gets really really really happy when I do upgrade my gear. Because, you know ... it's something I honestly need and see the validation in.
I just spend an entire month worth of rent on a new piece of equipment (I have to pay both my studio space and my appartment & its very expensive!) on a new tablet. A Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 (128GB). Basically, a laptop-and-drawing-tablet-all-in-one. Fiew ... that was a long one. Basically its this thing below here:
Fancy right? I got a whole laptop-kinda-thing-I-can-draw-on! Very proud of it. There was a deal going on so its also the main reason why I could get my claws on it as that few hundred bucks DOES make a difference after all. Even as freelancer. I try not to be a big spender but a "wise-spender" when it comes to my own business. Because if I need to buy something it's often something really expensive and even thought I love brand new gear: I like to eat. Hahah! So enough about that.
So how did I get from a Cintiq (one of those you need to connect to a mac) to a Cintiq Companion that's actually twice as expensive? I asked myself my most asked question to students: do you really need it to become better/bigger/more productive?
A few months ago (when I discovered the existence of a thing like Cintiq) I wanted it véry badly but I knew it wasn't the time yet. Sure it would speed me up & maybe I could deliver more detailed work but I wasn't in full-time business and I knew it wouldn't help me that much. It was a "gear-wh*re" thing as I like to call it: wanting it because it's fancy ... but thats it.
Looking back now I'm VERY happy as my dear friend Ophidia showed me the existence of a companion and after thinking for a while about it (and being able to try it out on hers including messing up some photos to see if it really did speed me up with masking and details) I discovered that it was something I really needed. You see: I'm a full-time business now traveling between my studio and my appartment. I spend many many hours in my studio waiting until make-up is done, people are dressed, I'm waiting for clients, ... there is always something. And in the months I've been working there now I have lost countless hours on doing basically nothing while I was drowning in work. I would work constantly at home (I usually like to start at 7 in the morning and stop earliest at 22.00 ... not so long ago I did days from 16 to 20 hours, 7/7) and be sick of stress constantly because I wasn't getting my deadlines done and I had so much unretouched work. It's not that I didn't like hanging out and chatting in the studio while makeup happened, I tried to be productive too (filming and cleaning) ... buuuuut in the end I found myself with the biggest backlog ever because I never ever had such a busy time ever in my life. Being a business is a lot more then pushing that camera button, even thought we all preach it constantly, it's only when you findyourself being a freelancer you realize just how true it is!
The past week I've been doubting if it's really worth the money. compared to all the things I would get. At first I wasn't convinced at all. By far even! But after some calculations and seeing how much time I would be in the studio in the next few weeks waiting for makeup to be done I realized it could make a huge difference after all when it came to being productive. It really did! And so I decided today to buy myself the most expensive piece of non-photographic equipment I've ever bought.
Being patient is a good virtue for sure and sometimes stopping the race-for-gear (or just staying out of it like me!) opens a whole new mindset and vision. Because I honestly never ever bothered with the pixels or sensor size or the latest mirrorless-magick (or not) I just try to work with what I got (nothing) and I've builded it up to a few key pieces for me: I got a beautiful second hand Imac, I just recently got married to my very first own brand new big camera that isn't some second hand left behind piece and after many years because I need it for my work I decided to get myself the middle Companion so I can work in the studio & have a real (for real!) better time management.
Don't get me wrong: I AM exited about technology and I definitely am always up for trying new things or tricks! But I always learned to work with nothing and just owe it as it came (and fail occassionaly often) and it works for me. In the end, it's still a lot of money and I feel that I'm just touching the water with my technical knowledge when it comes to getting the maximum out of what I got (even if it's just an octabox and a softbox in my studio ...). I would love to get a bigger space & more lights, but at the same time: I'm still discovering set-ups (like, I found three new ones in the past few weeks and I've been using my set-up for like ... almost two years now on my own & only that?!) so there that goes.
I often receive this question about gear & honestly: for me it works best that I only have what I really need. And it isn't much. I'm always on the lookout though but at the same time, it's such an endless rage and I'm very happy discovering. Soon I will introduce a new light and maybe I get a bigger space next year .. but thats for then. For now I'm a happy with what I got as I feel I use my budget wisely. Who knows what the future holds now :) but thats for another time ... because like I said: patience IS a virtue after all. And I'm now going to happily discover this whole new world of technology! There will always be better, bigger, faster, .... anyway. So I settle for what I think will work best for me and my level of skills.