Let's talk about gear

So it has been some time since we last talked...

And honestly, I haven’t had any pressing topics, to talk about. I don’t want to force ideas down on this page. They’ll come organically, which just means it may take some time to put together.

The topic for today is GEAR! Mostly questioning the thought of, "does it matter?". It is a very broad question and obviously, the answer is yes gear does matter. But the next question we should be asking ourselves is “why?”

I get these two questions constantly over emails and direct messages, “what lens do you use?”, “what camera do you use?”. Before replying I always ask myself why do they want to know what gear I use? I could easily make a blog post just talking about all the gear I have, but it would be short and rather pointless. Don’t get me wrong I love talking about gear and I would totally give you my honest opinion but at the end of the day, I don't think that is very helpful. Mainly because it is coming from my perspective and style of taking photos. If you’re trying to get better at photography, knowing the gear I use is not going to help. ***Disclaimer: gear won’t necessarily make you much better either

In understanding where I am coming from, I am going to take you through my thought process before I purchase any gear. We’ll start off with the steps before we even start looking for gear in-store or online.

  1. WHY DO I NEED THIS NEW PIECE OF GEAR? (Make a list of what your current set up can’t do so you can justify purchasing this new piece)

  2. What purpose will this new piece of gear serve?

  3. Do I see myself using this piece of gear every time I go out to take photos

These are three steps I take, before even considering a new lens or camera body. The most important step in my mind is step 3. If you don’t see yourself using that lens or body every time you go out, then you should probably just rent the item. Renting gear is relatively cheap for a short-term solution and is usually under $100/day. Renting equipment is a great way to test equipment to ensure it is right for you. I also like renting a lens before deciding to purchase it as a final test to ensure that I actually want it.

Alright so let’s say we’ve decided that we do want this new piece of gear. Do we go to the camera store and purchase it, right then and there. I mean there is no wrong answer, and you could totally do this. But for me, I always check online forum especially when it comes down to a lens. A lot of times you will find great deals on a lens that have been barely used. If the lens is a minimum of 25% cheaper then retail price, I generally rather purchase it used. That essentially my thought process on how I purchase new gear.

This pretty much wraps up today’s topic. I hope this gives you a little insight into my thoughts on the topic. If you have any further questions, feel free to email me at michael.a.sugianto@gmail.com or drop a comment below.

Thanks for listening…

Currently my favourite body + lens combination at the moment. Canon 1DX and the Canon 24mm 1.4L

Currently my favourite body + lens combination at the moment. Canon 1DX and the Canon 24mm 1.4L

I want to know why?

If you asked me if writing was my forte, I would be quick to say absolutely not. English in high school was probably my worst subject. The story of my education is a story for another day though, this is just fair warning about the endless grammar and spelling error you’ll probably find on my page.

The real reason I wanted to write my first blog post is to talk about a topic that I feel is relevant in today’s world. The topic of instagram, creativity and purpose. So…many of you probably came to know about me through my instagram (@mikesugianto), and I would be lying if I told you that it didn’t matter to me, or that it didn’t shape who I am today.

Recently I have been going through a creative rut, to me this is not something that just happens over night. Rather it something that brews inside you over time to the point where you really start questioning why you’re doing this all together. You start asking yourself, if instagram disappeared would I still be doing this, is this something I can see myself doing in 10 years. Not to mention the constant struggle I face internally to please people in my life. These aren’t the only questions that have been running through my mind. But I am not someone who is content with staying the same, being in this creative rut means, I need to find a way to get out. So these are a couple things I’ve been doing to help “cure” me.

  • Continue to take photos as much as possible (stopping will only keep me in this rut)

  • Start taking photos of what makes me happy (I’m going to talk about this a bit further down)

  • Take photos by yourself, let your mind wander while you’re out and let your mind create the images


I would say three out of those four point are pretty obvious ways. The second point is what I want to talk about. So I’ve come to realize that over the two years that I’ve been using instagram, I’ve seen thousands of photos of amazing places all over the world. Countries that I want to visit one day. The only issue for me is that I’ve subconsciously built up a library of images in my head, so when I’m planning trip, all I want to do is go to this cool place and take photos. That doesn’t sound bad at all until you realize that you’ve seen the exact same shot of Moraine Lake 30000000 million thousand billion times. I mean hey if you’re not from here I don’t blame you for wanting to capture the place for it glory. What I am trying to say is that I’ve traveling around the world taking photos of cool places based off other photographer’s compositions. I’ll admit to it, it sounds awful, it makes me look like a poser (whatever you want to call it), BUT it is the reality that I’ve come to realize. We are humans and we naturally make mistakes. The real question now is how do I fix this.

Living in Calgary, I have Banff National Park just an hour from my doorstep, which has been so helpful in getting me through this rut. I’ve gone back to why I do this, the root of my creativity. Before I was really into sharing my photos on social media, I was all about hiking and aimless adventuring. I would sometime drive 1000km in one day, just to realize I had only taken a 100 photos. I’ve done more hikes of recent. I’ve gone back to this, I recently drove to Jasper as a small day trip, if you don’t know where that is, it is about 4.5-5 hours from Calgary on way… Seem a bit excessive to get out of a rut, but I can’t really explain in words about the freedom I’ve felt creativity from doing trips like this. But I would say my biggest secret to getting out of my rut is taking photos of people, people who share this open mind of adventuring. Over the last month I haven’t felt more inspire or more driven with my work.

My new focus is story telling, it has always been something I have strive to achieve through my images. It may sound broad to say “I want to create images that tell their own stories”. But it’s so true, most people who view your images were not there when you took them. Therefore how are they post to know the struggles and joy that the experience brought to you. It is those emotions and feelings that are easily lost and left behind in the photos. I want to get better at this concept, I want you guys to feel emotions when you look at my photos. I want it to be the closet feeling you can achieve without actually being there. I’m inspire and I want you to be inspired too. I don’t know if I am ending this prematurely but I think I’ve said what I want to say.

Thanks for listening…

Lake Louise on a cold fall morning

Lake Louise on a cold fall morning