What Makes a Pro? Lessons Leaned from 2 Years Giving Cheap Cams to Pro Photogs

Well, we started the photography tips train rolling earlier today with four incredibly informative short interviews with portrait master Gregory Heisler, and what better way to follow that up than with some great tips from the sillier side of the photo industry: the folks over at DigitalRev.

Over the years, DigitalRev TV has put together many videos for its “Pro Tog, Cheap Camera” series in which they give a skilled photographer a poor excuse for a camera and let them have at it. The point of the series is plain: the gear doesn’t make the picture, the photographer does.

The series has been running for over two years now, and so Kai and the DigitalRev team decided it might be a good idea to condense two years worth of “Pro Tog, Cheap Camera” down into an informational (and, of course, humorous) six-minute video on “How to Shoot Like a Pro.”

The camera David Hobby (aka. Strobist) was made to use during his "Pro Tog, Cheap Camera" challenge.

The camera David Hobby (aka. Strobist) was made to use during his “Pro Tog, Cheap Camera” challenge.

There’s a lot of great advice there, all taken from different episodes of the series in which photographers played with snakes, laid down in the middle of the street, demonstrated extreme patience and even went over the handlebars of a bicycle, all in the name of getting the perfect shot using far-from-perfect equipment.

To see the whole thing for yourself, click play on the video at the top. And if you’d like to watch some of the Pro Tog, Cheap Camera challenges in full, click here to see some of our favorites.

(via ISO 1200)

  • Carlee Keppler-Carson

    For years I have taken cheap disposables with me to give to kids or adults in parts of the world where a camera of any kind is a novelty. What I found though after moving to digital is that I would take one and play with it to test myself because there is nothing between your subject and your eye other than a piece of film and now make it a regular thing, challenging some of my friends to do the same. I love the excuses they come up with not to do it. Some back away in horror at the thought of putting down their gear for something so inferior others I recoil in terror at the thought of proving themselves. We’ve gotten lazy in the digital age but I love this challenge and always will.

  • Ashley

    I am disappointed that this entire video of “pro photographers” did not include a singe female photographer.

  • Jacob

    Oh my god you are right there was only one or two who were merely assisting. There were also no Gays and no Africans, no Latin Americans, No South Asians, Eastern Europeans and I was also missing handicapped people…….

    Ashley – grow up will you? Maybe the interviewer simply didn’t find one that was available on the day of the shoot. There are plenty of groups out there called “women in Photography” and the sorts where no men are allowed to join in… It annoys me, but so what?

  • Renato Valenzuela

    I buy a Kodak FunSaver every so often to keep my mind sharp.

  • Carlee Keppler-Carson

    those little buggers are actually rather difficult to use and you have to be patient with your shots lol

  • Gman

    They’re in China, what did you expect?

  • J

    Has the challenge ever been done with a film camera? I’d be really interested to see what those photogs can do with an “old” reflex or even an 110mm camera…

  • t k

    Only a 35mm canon eos SLR. But with an older” lens baby”.

  • Brendan

    The whole ‘woman only groups aren’t fair’ thing is such a terrible argument by the way. They only exist out of necessity because what is normally available is so predominately male emphasized or populated with a fear of being judged.

    Ashley is right too, DR is pretty bad getting any female photographers ever. You’re even lucky to get a women who talk on the show who aren’t Alamby.

    In my experience with local groups or the type of events I shoot, the ratio is probably 60:40 male:female. It just isn’t reflecting reality.

  • bmassao

    Actually, they did a Cheap Cam, Pro Tog challenge with a woman, Jennifer Chau. It was the 6th instalment of the series.
    Anyway, in my opinion, her program was the worst of the series, but I’d like to see some more women in this series as well.

  • Brodie

    There was also one with a broken Holga. Can’t remember which though

  • Steve Hughes

    Are there any of the pictures to look at???

  • Carlee Keppler-Carson

    Why take the gear so literally? Go out and test your eye with a cheap disposable yourselves and then view the results. That is the point of the discussion.

  • Carlee Keppler-Carson

    I am really confused as to why the gender issue would even be brought up?

  • Bill Binns

    Annie Leibovitz was busy.

  • Carlee Keppler-Carson

    If one has a fear of being judged in this business or as an artist in general may want to learn to thicken their skin. Some of the world’s best photographers are women and I doubt that the guy doing these videos even thought that this aspect of discussion would enter into what are rather entertaining pieces.

  • TheresaZ

    Great idea, I will try this.

  • Jacob

    Really? They exist out of necessity?

    OK let me set things straight – I’m all for equality. When it counts.

    This is a video about pro’s using cheap cameras. It’s not about pay, or anything else that women get discriminated against. It seems Ashley is saying that this video is “ignoring” women as also being “pro photographers”. That is simply silly.

    Gays, Handicapped people, Latin Americans and South Asians, and many many many others are also discriminated for. Therefore according to Ashely’s reasons, they should also be “represented” into each and every single video on something that is being made …

    My point is the original comment is simply ridiculous. And yes it is tiring to always see women complain about their problems. I never seen a gay, muslim, or handicapped person complain about these issues. I wonder why?

  • Daniel Crowder

    That was the one with Vincent Laforet. He got incredible images in that episode.

  • Cheyenne L Rouse

    Jacob – I guess since you aren’t a women in a male dominated business you wouldn’t get it anyway! Good observation Ashley! :)

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