More often than not, freelancers have to get by on meager incomes for much of their career. While it's not ideal for some people, others try to make the most out of it. The internet is packed with tips for saving money in our down economy, but some are worth repeating. For me, one thing I always try to look out for is overspending when I eat out with friends. It's really easy to sit down at a restaurant and order a $9 entrée, a $3 drink and a $4 dessert without even registering the relative cost of the food. That same amount of money could rack in a complete wardrobe on a Salvation Army dollar-clothing day. Yet so many people order way too much uncessery food which, quite frankly, only lasts a matter of hours in your system.
Instead of ordering a 2000 calorie mega-meal the next time you're out with friends, why not keep things simple? Check out the "Sides" section of the menu. Often times, sides are priced in relation to adding it onto a full entrée, and when done so, comes in a smaller portion size. But in many restaurants, the kitchen/serving staff will actually "super-size" your portions when ordering a side by itself, without increasing the price in the least bit. The french fries photographed above cost a grand total of $1.99. And that was before I ate most of them, when the basket was still full. Sure, I could have ordered the $6.95 Gyros meal like I usually do, but it's often too much food for me. That extra $5 can go a long way, and when combined with a glass or two of water, a large serving of fries fills me up pretty fast.
The downside to this is, of course, the fact that most sides do not offer a complete nutritional range. But as long as one adjusts their other meals of the day at home sufficiently, this should not be a big issue for most individuals with standard diets. And it sure beats indulging on insane quantities of food, only to feel sick afterwards.
Photography is notoriously expensive. With cameras running upwards of $400 for a basic model body, and a good lens usually costing at least $250 or more, photographers quickly go broke working their way up to a respectable kit. For those who don't make a living off of the art, however, one can get by on some unorthodox gear choices. And if one has luck in the realm of bargain shopping, the act of scouting out cheap gear can become a game within itself.
What you see above was taken with such a lens. Though it is a pretty poor sample shot, it shows you that a decently artistic photo can be crafted on the cheap. And what glass was responsible for this picture? Photographed below, this lens is a prime (ha!) example of a dirt cheap lens. My second thrift store lens (in recent years) for $7, this baby isn't without its flaws. Unlike my first $7 lens, a 50mm Pentax-M f2 that was covered in grime but cleaned up nicely, this latest find isn't in full operational condition. Though physically clean with clear glass, this Sears 28mm f2.8 lens seems to have aperture blades stuck wide open at f2.8. For casual shooting, this isn't much of an issue, as I usually keep my glass open in most situations. And for $7, I'm not complaining in the least bit.
At this point, I fully intend on purchasing a Sony NEX-5 camera as soon as it is widely released. And assuming that a Pentax-K to E-Mount adapter will be available from third party vendors in short time, it would be nice to have a collection of cheap prime lenses to use on such a tiny body for casual and street shooting. Though I wont go out of my way to purchases lenses for such a use, there's no harm in having "extras" lying around. And often times, working within the constraints of manual focus and exposure forces you to critically examine potential shots in new ways.
One month ago, guardian.co.uk posted a story about the human labor behind the massive construction in the UAE's favorite larger-than-life province. Dubai is known as the home to many recently broken world records involving architecture. It also happens to host the most construction cranes in the world. Sandy deserts surrounding the main city have "forced" city planners to build upwards (and into the ocean, but that's a whole different story). While most tourists and travelers to the city awe at the architecture, nearly all fail to notice the sprawling labor camps set up on the city's outskirts. Kept away from the eyes of the public, these workers come from every corner of the Middle East and India. As The Guardian states, "Like hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, they each paid more than £1,000 to employment agents in India and Pakistan. They were promised double the wages they are actually getting, plus plane tickets to visit their families once a year, but none of the men in the room had actually read their contract. Only two of them knew how to read."
The profound photographs attached to The Guardian's investigative article open a portal into this unknown world, where countless individuals work for little pay in a world governed by the wealthy. Their passports are seized by the labor companies, and they are prevented access to even the most basic of healthcare. Though Dubai might host some of the world's most phenomenal sights, the untold story behind these wonders is one of sorrow and despair. Things may be changing, as conditions have actually improved in recent years, though not by much. You can read the entire article here.