Once again I’ll be heading off over the holiday season and once again it’s to what some may not think of as a typical tourist destination – Beirut, and more generally Lebanon. However as a photographer I think it’s important to push ourselves and experience new things whenever we can. As such I would generally prefer to spend my money on travel to go photograph something new, rather than equipment to photograph potentially the same thing is a slightly different way.

As David duChemin is always preaching, gear is good but vision is better. Whilst I still have kit I’d like to buy (anyone care to send me a Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM for Christmas?) I’m now at the stage where I think I have (most of) the basic kit I need. As a result its time to focus on my vision. Experiencing new things and challenging myself to come back from a trip with engaging shots is far more appealing. Doing this will invariably lead to you taking better photographs.

To illustrate this, have a look at the shots below.

Guatemala0064.jpg

The first is from a 2006 trip to Guatemala and whilst I like it, I’d be the first to say its a little boring and ordinary. Compare it to the second shot from a 2010 trip to Iran.

Old TownYazdAcross the roofs of old parts of towns and villages you can often see many of the above structures which are an early form of air conditioning. The wind towers caught the breeze with the fins cooling the air before directing it down into the rooms below.

Whilst I admit my equipment has improved over this time, I think my composition skills, focus, and post-processing abilities have seen a far greater improvement.I hope you agree that over the years my vision has improved! So next time you’re considering buying some new equipment, usually with the thought that it will help take your photography to that “next level”, why not stop and think about other alternatives to push you to improve your skills. If you can travel and put yourself in unfamiliar surroundings I can guarantee it will force you to improve your photography.