I am a full-time photographer and camera gear is very important to me. I obviously need a camera, lens, and a few other accessories to successfully take a photo, but sometimes with all the hype of new equipment being announced every other week we tend to forget that it’s not the gear that makes the photograph – it’s the photographer.

The only DSLR I own is a Nikon D200, and in my opinion it is a great camera for the type of work I do, which is mostly portrait & stock photography. Not that I won’t ever upgrade, or don’t want to upgrade, but right now it’s the tool I use to pay the bills. I tend to shoot everything at ISO 100 in controlled conditions with plenty of light, so for the most part I haven’t run into many issues when trying to get the shot I am looking for.

I was recently photographing at a rodeo where, after the sun was set, the conditions called for extremely fast shutter-speeds at high-ISO levels. This is a scenario I’m usually not in, and I was definitely feeling a bit inadequate. I couldn’t compete with my friends and fellow photographers who were sporting Nikon D700, D2X, and Canon 5D Mark II cameras. My D200 only goes to ISO 1600 … and even with an f/2.8 lens I was out of luck. So what did I do? I got creative.

Several times throughout the evening I was tempted to put my camera down and just sit back and enjoy the show … how was I going to get anything good with my D200? But the stubborn photographer inside of me kept on going. I walked around the stadium and saw a cowboy perched on a fence facing the arena, so I got behind him, sat down and took a few shots. Yes, I was at my highest ISO and the image is crazy noisy, but it ended up being my favorite shot of the night. I told a story of the entire evening with this one photo, something I wasn’t able to do with the hundred or so other images I took of bull-riders and barrel-racers. I didn’t let my gear get me down; instead I was persistent and did the very best with what I had and ended up with an amazing photograph.