It’s a problem that all photographers and filmmakers experience at some point. We see some shiny new gear, and we just have to have it. Right? But do we? Do we really need it, or do we just want it?
Adam Karnacz at First Man Photography thoughtfully discusses this topic in his recent video. Adam’s talk, he says, is as much to himself as it is to us. But he discusses the ways we can help to control our G.A.S. and decision paralysis.
GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and decision paralysis are two very real things. Yes, they may be “first-world problems”, but they’re still things. GAS makes us grow our gear collections unnecessarily large. Decision paralysis is when we’re overloaded with so much gear, we don’t know which to use.
When so much gear out there promises to be the latest and greatest whatever it is, with ten times more things than its predecessor and twice as fast, it’s difficult to know what marketing hype to believe. This only compounds the problem.
Sometimes we have an idea inside our heads of “what a photographer should have”, without knowing if we really need it at all. And sometimes, without knowing why we might need it. We just get it because we think it’s expected.
Case in point, light meters. Many photographers buy handheld incident light meters because they’ve read that every photographer should have one. I’ve lost track of the number of photographers I’ve met over the years who own a handheld light meter but have no idea what to do with it and never use it.
I have a light meter. But I need a light meter for certain projects. Light meters can offer specific advantages for specific types of photography and filmmaking. Do I suggest everyone go get one? No. And even if I do suggest that an individual buy a light meter, do I tell them to get the latest and greatest? Also no.
For about ten years, I used a Sekonic L718 as my light meter. And it was already twenty years old when I bought it. I did finally update to an L758DR a couple of years ago because it offered a feature I needed at the time. A feature that my L718 didn’t have. If not for that one feature, I’d still happily be using my L718 (and I do still use it when shooting film instead of the L758).
For Adam, it was a studio. He set one up because he wanted one. He thought he should have one and he wanted one, but he didn’t really need one. It just ended up becoming a hassle for him, as he explains in the video.
Ultimately, what Adam needed was to get out more and shoot landscapes.
The message is simple. Buy gear because you genuinely need what it offers you, not just because you want it and you think it will provide some imaginary benefit because marketing companies have told you it will.
Then, get out there and use it. You’ll only really discover your genuine needs when you know (and hit!) the limits of your existing kit. And it doesn’t matter what genre of photography you shoot. Actually shooting will teach you all you need to know about your gear and what you need.