Understand the ROI and you will never look back.
First and foremost I believe very strongly that photography is an art. Like all artistic ventures it is a skill that requires careful nurturing and encouragement to allow it to blossom into something magical that people will love and appreciate. Skills however are so often hungry beasts that require feeding over and over again and there is an associated cost to this.
This cost is not necessarily a monetary one though. Many would argue that your time is more valuable than money and indeed this is often the case. Photography has a reputation for being expensive though, so let us first take a look at that.
When making a purchase it is important to balance your needs and requirements with your budget. This is particularly the case when buying your first proper camera system. For example, it would be pointless buying a top-of-the-range professional DSLR when you will be only shooting off a few frames on a weekend. On the other hand you should buy a system that gives you room to improve and grow, you do not want to feel the need to upgrade too soon after the initial purchase. There is a third caveat however, that is the desire to buy the best item possible. My method of dealing with this, in all walks of life, has always been to buy the item that is just one notch up from what I can actually afford. Whilst this does not seem like sound financial advice it will ensure your happiness. Were you to buy the item that is slap bang within your budget it will likely result in a feeling of regret that you did not stretch a bit and plump for the better item. Most of the time there will be cut backs you can make elsewhere in your life. Eating is only semi-important compared to drinking water; we all have to suffer for our art right?
Time. Considering the small amount we actually exist in the world what more a precious commodity is there? It is important to understand yourself and decide where you want to invest your time. I realised sometime ago that I had did not really watch TV anymore (apart from when the mighty Middlesbrough Football Club are on). This was not a conscious decision but i had simply started investing my time elsewhere; in my family, my business, my writing and my personal photography projects. This extra commitment to personal projects has undoubtedly made me a better photographer over the years as I indulged in so many areas of photography, learning my craft and honing my skills. Challenging yourself in this way is a sound investment of your time and the return will be clear to see when you track the improvement in the images you are capturing.
Here are 5 reasons why you should start a photography project. https://www.firstmanphotography.com/blog/5-reasons-photography-project
The most rewarding feeling and biggest improvement in your photography will come when you combine the two and invest both time and money into your craft. This does not necessarily mean buying more new gear either. Every year my friend and I take a photography trip somewhere and spend a few days capturing beautiful landscapes, the local wildlife and generally indulging our passion for photography. We try to travel fairly cheaply and camping is an excellent way to stay connected to the landscapes we are staying in and ensure we are up with plenty of time to catch the sunrise. You can read about the most recent trip here, although our sunrise shot was thwarted by total cloud cover. We both captured some beautiful images throughout the trip though so a full return on our investment was realised. We are both now hooked on this type of investment and our 2016 trip to Western Scotland is already planned. Plans for 2017 are already underway and we are looking at our biggest investment yet with a trip to the remote Island of St Kildas.
Now to return to the title question; why you should invest in your photography? The easy answer is it will make you a better photographer. Going deeper though it will make you a more interesting person, it will expand your horizons, it will make you happy, it will give you a purpose and a positive direction and it will leave you with an ever expanding portfolio of images that you can share and people want to see. The next time someone asks you, "what did you do last night?" the answer will not just be “I watched TV.”
Check out Lyle McCalmont at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mclyle/