A girl named Alex emailed me recently asking about the camera I use and if the investment is worth it. I love getting questions like these because I love to talk about photography and I want to help budding photographers with their questions. I remember when I was first starting out and getting answers that made sense for me wasn’t always easy. The internet is full of information and opinions, but it’s hard to filter through it all. So, today I’m answering Alex’s question while enjoying these delicious Fish Tacos with Mango Cucumber Salsa.
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.
It seemed fitting to post my Fish Tacos with Mango Cucumber Salsa 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. Eventually, I found my vision for the shoot, but without it, it made it incredibly hard to get it right.
So, what kind of camera should you start with?
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 saved me some money in the beginning and thoroughly taught me the in’s and out’s of the camera.
How do you know when it’s time to upgrade?
I tell people once you are comfortable shooting in manual mode, you will probably be ready to upgrade. Once 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 totally 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
Note: I used mahi mahi
1 mango, diced
1/2 seedless cucumber, diced
3 tablespoons mint, finely chopped
1 medium serrano chile, seeded and diced
1 avocado, thinly sliced
4 small radishes, thinly sliced
Salt, to taste
1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
2. In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, lime zest, juice from 1 lime, cilantro and half of the shallot.
3. Mix together and add fish, turning to coat both sides.
4. Let stand for 15-20 minutes.
5. In another bowl, add remaining shallot, mango, cucumber, mint, chile and a generous pinch of salt. Stir to combine.
6. Remove fish from marinade and grill 3-4 mintues on each side.
7. Internal temperature should read 145-150.
8. Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.
9. Flake fish apart using a fork.
10. Grill tortillas 10-15 seconds on each side and remove from grill.
11. Divide fish among tortillas, top with mango cucumber salsa, avocado, radishes and cilantro.
12. Serve with lime wedges.
All images © Regan Baroni 2016.