A reader named Alex emailed me recently asking about what camera I use and if the investment is worth it. I love getting questions like this. I remember when I was first starting out as a photographer and trying to find answers that made sense wasn’t always easy. The internet is full of information and a variety of opinions and it can be really hard to filter through it all. So, today I’m answering Alex’s question while enjoying these delicious Fish Tacos with Mango Cucumber Salsa.
Technical vs. Creative Side of Photography
I always tell people that there are two sides to photography: The technical side (your camera) and the creative side (your vision). Your camera is simply a tool to help you execute your vision. At the end of the day, it’s not really about what kind of camera you have, it’s about how you see and capture the world around you.
I wanted to post this Fish Tacos with Mango Cucumber Salsa recipe while talking about the creative side of things. Some foods are simply more challenging to shoot than others. Tacos are one of those foods for me. It took a few frustrating shoots before I felt like I got it right for the blog. My plating and styling was off and although I have a great camera to work with, my vision for the shoot wasn’t there. This made it hard to get the images I wanted. To get beautiful shots, you need to know your camera, but you also need to know your creative vision.
What Camera Should You Buy
My advice is if you really want to learn photography, and you want to upgrade from your smartphone, start with a beginner to medium level DSLR. Buy a book specific to your camera model, so you can learn how to really use it. If you’re just going to leave the camera on Auto, you’re basically carrying around a much larger, heavier smartphone. Don’t invest until you’re ready to experiment and explore how your camera can work for you.
I started with the Nikon D3100, which is no longer available, but it’s comparable to the D3300.
I also bought two books to get me going: Nikon D3300 From Snapshots to Great Shots and Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling.
I have upgraded cameras since then (Nikon D750), but starting with a beginner level camera allowed me to learn the basics so I’d know what to look for in my next camera.
When To Upgrade
Once you are comfortable shooting in manual mode, you will find yourself ready to upgrade. When you discover the limitations of a beginner model by shooting manual, you will have a much better understanding of what to look for in your next camera.
Do you need a model with better ISO capabilities? Do you want to shoot video? Do you want to shoot full frame? As you grow into yourself as a photographer you will be better informed to make the best decision for what you want to do. Until then, there’s no reason to break the bank.
Invest in your vision first and take the time to practice, practice, practice. Photography is an investment no matter what level you are, but if you really love it, it’s absolutely worth it.
FISH TACOS WITH MANGO CUCUMBER SALSA
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 limes, zested and juiced, 1 quartered
- 1-2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (save extra for garnish)
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 1 pound white fish
- 1 mango, diced
- 1/2 seedless cucumber, diced
- 3 tablespoons mint, finely chopped
- 1 medium Serrano chile, seeded and diced
- Flour tortillas
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- 4 small radishes, thinly sliced
- Salt, to taste
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
- In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, lime zest, juice from 1 lime, cilantro and half of the shallot.
- Mix together and add fish, turning to coat both sides.
- Let stand for 15-20 minutes.
- In another bowl, add remaining shallot, mango, cucumber, mint, chile and a generous pinch of salt. Stir to combine.
- Remove fish from marinade and grill 3-4 minutes on each side.
- Internal temperature should read 145-150.
- Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Flake fish apart using a fork.
- Grill tortillas 10-15 seconds on each side and remove from grill.
- Divide fish among tortillas, top with mango cucumber salsa, avocado, radishes and cilantro.
- Serve with lime wedges.
I used Mahi-Mahi, but you can use any white fish you'd like.
All images © Regan Baroni 2016.