Why Do We Care so Much About Gear? (And Why We Shouldn't)

04 Jan

New year and new beginnings... coming to you with after-Christmas and New Year's sales from camera shops trying to make you add "buy new lens" to your to-do list for the year ahead. Don't let gear acquisition become your way of becoming a better photographer because all it will do is make you use your duster more because the pile of unused gear will grow and grow. 

I didn't want to come across as a Grinch - I have my own wishlists but I try and mull it over long enough to realise whether I actually need it, whether I will use it, and whether it is something that my current equipment cannot do or cannot do as good as I need it to. Other than that - it's very likely that it will end up back on Facebook Marketplace or Ebay eventually.

I understand why camera companies market their equipment the way they do because it generally does appeal to the larger market, namely, beginners, especially those who have a secure job and use photography as a hobby. This enables them to have enough surplus cash to spend on new accessories, lenses, and even bodies. As a professional, generally you will not make a decision to invest more in your equipment unless it is quite clear that it will benefit your business. So, what about the rest of us who don't equate new gear with increased artistic abilities?

When the moment is right, only camera that counts is the one you can get to the quickest.

It is very easy to get sucked into the world of "I have X, Y, Z... what should I buy next?", but truth to be told, it's very similar to social media. If you use it cautiously and realise that most people are sharing beautiful highlights of their lives, not the truth, then you will learn not to feel like you are missing out by being yourself and true to yourself (instead of following others). 

Creating art is as subjective as you can get, and for that reason there is no one way to create it (and no one piece of equipment you MUST have). Creating work with substance speaks for itself, whether you shot it on a cheap old camera or the newest Sony. Your original work will speak for itself because the message of it will be at the forefront not the tools that made it happen. Just think about it - as my friend Geoff always says anyone can become a camera operator - you know how to turn it on, point it at something that looks visually pleasant and press the shutter. But what you can't teach (you can only inspire, guide, and mentor) is using photography as a way to express your thoughts, to create meaningful body of work, and to be brave enough to not give a crap about the technicalities. Sure, you need to learn how to use the tool first of all, but the rest is all down on you. Canon will be similar to Nikon, in fact they all are. It doesn't matter - once you learn it, you know it. The magic happens when you let your hands do what they need to do but use your mind, vision, tap into your emotions and let them lead you creatively. 

So, while it is important to a point to get the right tool for you, it's not end of the world if you have something that is not as expensive as what Bob has in your local photography group. The hard part comes when you realise the camera can't do the work for you - you need to create, come up with projects and finish them, you need to be creative in your own unique way because all the camera does is capture what is right in front of you. It's you who needs to add the rest to the formula to make it successful, meaningful, emotive. And, that's my wish for you all in 2020 - let yourself be creative and do it in your own way/

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