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I’m a photographer yet I never owned a DSLR

James Bacarro, Full-stack Marketer, Dubai

31 March 2017

I never owned a DSLR. Yes really.

And I’m a pro photographer. By pro – I’m talking about me who gets hired for photo shoots. Disclaimer: I’m not some kind of a super pro.. just some level of pro-ness — if you know what I mean. hehe

After college, I developed an interest in learning photography. I had a full-time teaching job but the salary I make wasn’t enough to afford myself a DSLR camera. Buying on credit was something I am not a fan of as I’m a financially conscious guy. My interest was deep enough that I started learning – reading resources online about photography and how to use a DSLR. Every time I get a chance to borrow from a friend, I immediately grab that chance to test out what I have learned in theory. Of course, some were a failed attempt – like when I was trying out FULL MANUAL settings the first time.. Either the exposure was bad or white balance was off.

At that time, the Nikon D40 was a hit. It was small and cheap yet the quality was top notch. I kept staring at it on my screen and I really wanted to have one at that time.

I remembered my first paid gig. It was a cd album cover of a family friend. I rented a Nikon D90 from a friend. I had to rent it as I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of just borrowing the camera – I thought it was a fair thing to do as I’m gonna use it for a gig.

Then I convinced our school administrator that I will handle the yearbook photo shoot instead of hiring outsiders. I was paid extra of course 😀
At that time I rented camera gears from the brother of my “childhood friend – who was my former colleague – now my wife”.

Now, I can probably afford to buy. However, my employer right now already has a DSLR – and part of my job is being the company’s photographer. There was no point buying my own.


I’m also a videographer

As you may have read on my about page, I learned filmmaking before photography. My crew in college did’t have the gear. We just borrowed handy cams from my aunt, and from my classmate’s boss (DSLRs were not a thing yet at that time).

I’ve conducted filmmaking workshops and just borrowed the cameras/DSLRs we used during demos and actual production.

My company right now was also generous enough to provide me with a pro camcorder.


That’s my uncle’s DSLR

Year 2011

So what’s the takeaway? Simple. Don’t wait for the right circumstances to do what you want to do. Scarcity is not an excuse to not pursue your passion or your dream.

I believe that hunger kept me driven and motived. Had I been provided by my parents with whatever I wanted or needed, I would probably have not learned the skill which I have developed over the years. Are you hungry as well?


So what do I own instead?

I have a Fujifilm X100s. It’s a compact, mirrorless camera. It’s small, light and quiet.. simply awesome! It doesn’t have the weight and bulkiness of a DSLR yet the quality of the photos are at par with mid-range DSLRs. I mostly take portraits of my wife and our adventures so it’s more than enough for our needs as of now.