Can it be done? YES, is it practical? NO
Everything is possible but Iâ€™m a firm believer that in order to be successful in this business (making money) you need both, the right skills and the right tools. During our careers we all had to get resourceful, but this is a business, quality is as important as speed. Any day when I said to myself, â€œI wish I had thatâ€ because it would make my job easier, better and faster; be sure that the same evening Iâ€™ll be on the computer ordering whatever it was I wish I had few hours before.
I run into this problem often when other shooters tell me that the reason that I get a lot of good jobs is because I have a full compliment of gears, well, which one came first, the chicken or the egg. Having everything that you need doesnâ€™t necessarily make you a better photographer, but on the other hand unless you are wealthy and have money to waste, why would you buy additional gears if you donâ€™t know how it will improve your work. The right tool is required by the corresponding skill.
It always amazes me when people ask me what light kit should they buy. My answer always is, "buy whatever you need to do a good job", that's when I get the confused look back. The problem is that they don't know what they need to do a good job, they haven't got that far into their learning process yet and think that what they need is a good light kit to be good.
The High School I attended in my native country (sometime before electricity) was an Art Vocational School. We had to learn lighting from the very beginning. The first step of the process after lengthy classroom hours and spend endless time in museums, was to recreate the work of master painters, both lighting and composition. In one large empty room we had one large window, white sheets to use as diffusion or reflectors and black cloths to get negative fills. Weeks later and only after we mastered these techniques we moved next door to a real studio where they had real lights. Amazing how much more difficult it was at first shifting to real equipment.
To do a good job without good gear takes even more skills than when you have everything available to you, not only you must know what you need but you have to be handy and resourceful to create something with something that you donâ€™t have. But letâ€™s not forget that this is a business, having the right gears will expedite the process. Try to do a job in front of a client without the right gears or try to put something together with pieces of white cardboard and gaffer tape and youâ€™ll never hear from that client again, no matter how good the end result is. Confidence in the photographer is what creates long lasting working relations. In the eyes of the client if you can not afford to buy the right tools means that you donâ€™t get hired enough and donâ€™t make enough money to get well equipped.
There are also many times when the right equipment will allow to work in situation that otherwise would be impossible, try to do good work outside without HMIs, overheads and reflectors.
The success in this business is accomplished when you are able to always say to a client â€œyes I can do itâ€, no matter how complicated the request is, meaning you have the skills and the gears to do it no matter what it is. This is how you build long and profitable working relations.