Hi. My name is Bryan. and I’m recovering GAS — Gear Acquisition Syndrome — abuser.
I’m not alone. Actually, practically, all of us either have or will have been there. We see the newest camera bodies and sleek lenses that are coming out, and we begin to drool. Then we buy. Everything is alright again. Then… And then we buy some more.
Rest assured, there’s a way to treat GAS and be happy with the current gear you have.
It’s Not About the Gear
I alluded to this in my article about switching to Olympus, but it’s not about the gear — it’s how you use it. There are award-winning and very successful photographers out there who shoot with five-year-old camera bodies and third-party lenses.
Before my switch to mirrorless last year, I shot with a D800 — a camera that came out in March 2012. It was my workhorse. I used it for nearly every shoot. From corporate events to portraiture, I loved using it. It was as heavy as you could imagine, but it did what I needed it to do. Sure, I felt the itch to upgrade to the (at the time) new D810, or even a D5, but I really didn’t think it would dramatically make my life easier or make me a better photographer.
How to Treat GAS
Treating Gear Acquisition Syndrome can take some work. Long story short, put your focus on how to improve as a photographer with the gear you already have. Here are some ideas:
- Go on a photowalk with your cheapest lens. In doing so, limit yourself to shooting with a fixed aperture, ISO, or shutter speed. Put away your flash and long telephoto lenses. Doing so will make you think outside your norm. You’ll think about how to get the best shot possible, and it’ll also open you up to new perspectives on what you’re shooting.
- Rent a camera body or lens you’ve had your eye on. While you might think this goes against the end goal, rent the piece of equipment that you’ve been eyeing. If it’s not improving the way you see your photography or making your life easier, it’s probably not worth ponying up for. Simply put, answer this question: “is it something you can live without?”
- Engage with other photographers. Meet up with other photographers and network with them. Trade photography stories and practice some techniques together. This will help you open your mind up to seeing the “new” potential in your “old” gear.
- Get inspired. And shoot. Go on Instagram, Flickr or any other social network and do a search for a subject you like to photograph. Try to recreate, with your own eye, a couple of the photographs. For instance, you might set up your lighting similar to a photograph you see, and then play around with different, unique angles. This will help in your creativity and ultimately help you learn your gear and, happily, get more out of it?
In all seriousness, we all suffer from gear envy from time-to-time. But that doesn’t mean we always have to give in — instead, work with your current gear and make sure you know how to use it in every possible way. Open up that manual on occasion and see if you can discover new features that would help to enhance your photographs. It’s important to get your creativity flowing by going out and exploring, instead of blaming lack of creativity on your camera gear.