By OLIVIER DUONG
It’s a good day to be a camera maker. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, there’s Hasselblad who’s blowing full-frame out of the water, and Fujifilm is pulling out an X-T2. Cameras are supposed to be a companion to the photographer, or at the very least a tool, but, while I love cameras like the next guy, cameras can also become a pillar to hide behind.
That is probably the single biggest reason behind my Gear Acquisition Syndrome days. I’ve left it behind, but I won’t be getting back the hard earned money I spent carelessly. I even had a custom-made large format camera, barely shot five frames with it, sold it and lost $500 right off the bat with it.
But G.A.S is not the problem, it is the symptoms of a problem. And the problem was simple, I brought cameras to feel good about myself as a photographer, I’m sad to admit.
I believe that there’s only one way to feel good about yourself as a photographer, it’s to make great images. If you are missing the mark on that, you will do everything to compensate that fact. And I am speaking from experience.
It’s not that I particularly wanted to buy cameras, it’s that I had to, because I needed things to hide behind. Instead of focusing on the work, I focused on every peripheral thing to feel better about myself.
If you want a shiny new camera, shoot, go for it if you can afford it. But observe your motivations, a new buy can be a pillar to hide behind. Plus it also provides a perfect excuse on why the work is not there, “of course I can’t get nice images, I just had this new camera.”
The good thing is, we as photographers are not alone, general people hide behind brands, designers behind their new laptops, procrastinators behind their new gadgets.
I’m guilty of hiding behind all of those except brands, but I know a few people who do. Speaking of designers, my design teacher told us a story once.
She used to work for this magazine, her co-worker’s designs were mediocre at best, and she used to hand in three designs per project. One day, a Mac landed in the office, and now instead of pulling 3-4 designs, she pulled 10-15, all mediocre.
This story illustrates a good point, things are only enhancers, not makers. Don’t be a studier and buying an electronic dictionary won’t do much for you. Be a diligent student and an electronic dictionary multiplies your learning.
Likewise in photography, if you can’t make anything with 3fps, a larger fps count probably won’t help you much, just a whole lotta the same thing, like that teacher’s example. And I’ve seen it too in my life for every single camera that I got,
I did not improve one iota, just a whole lotta the same images with different gear. Sad stuff I tell ya.
The ego is a funny thing, it will try everything to protect itself, so watch out when it starts wanting you to invest in anything but the image. Again, if you think a camera will do you good, go for it, but I wish someone told me what I wrote above before wasting all my money in cameras. Be yourself, stay focused and keep on shooting.