GAS, also known as Gear Acquisition Syndrome, is very common among photographers. It simply means that you just can’t get enough new lenses, equipment and upgrade your cam as soon as possible in order to have more options and – according to the seemingly prevalent opinion – become better. But have you ever thought about the opposite side of this imaginary disease – the Gear Avoidance Syndrome? A syndrome that might even be good for you and your photography. And your wallet.
Gear envy takes two major forms;
- “I can’t do what I want with this crummy gear.”
- “I can’t believe that guy/gal has such great equipment when their work sucks so bad.”
Actually envying someone by what their gear collection is – “I so wish I was him, I would be so awesome with that gear” – is more a sign of needing some professional help. Please see someone straight away.
So let’s look at number one first, the thought that you cannot shoot with your current crummy gear.
This Pyramid is probably every psychology student nightmare. It illustrates Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which explains what do people really want. The (overly simplified here) idea behind the Pyramid is that you can only tent to a higher layer after you have dealt with satisfying the need of all the layers underneath it.
But how would this transform to photography? I have my idea of course, but I would love putting this here and hear your ideas. Share with us in the comments.
If you think that getting the next lens, body or strobe will instantly improve your photography, photographer Haoyuan Ren suggests a different point of view (no pun intended).
Ren has been shooting for about seven years and is landing jobs with the big magazines and shooting celebrities (Tilda Swinton, Dean Norris shown above and Taylor Schilling stood in front of his lens). Interestingly, Ren’s advice for photographers is to use less gear.
One of the things that I try getting across to my students is that despite all of its amazing capabilities, the camera is just a box. Yes, it is programmed with a seemingly limitless number of exposure combinations, but when all is said and done it’s just a box. It has no artistic intent. We have to speak its language, telling it what we see, in hopes that the image in our head matches the image in the box. It is a box with a cylindrical window on the world. It’s the quality of that window that is often the subject of raging debate. Nikon or Canon? OEM or third party? Everyone has an opinion. Interestingly enough, the one thing that many– if not most– agree upon is that kit lenses should be avoided like the plague.
I completely disagree. I say go dig that kit lens out of wherever you’ve hidden it and put it to work. For those of you who’ve somehow been convinced that your photography can’t possibly be of adequate quality until you drop money you don’t have on a lens you can’t afford, I say that nothing could be farther from the truth.
I don’t want to infringe on anyone’s copyright, so in an abundance of caution and professional deference, I’ll just tell you what the graphic said, rather than posting it. “Phew! I have all the gear I will ever need. Said no photographer EVER.” Now, we can all sit around and have a good laugh about it, but it does merit a conversation about a terrible, insidious affliction, the very mention of which elicits vehement denial from those who fall prey to the addiction. It may not be drugs or alcohol, but it is still a societal menace affecting a frightening percentage of the world’s creative population.
That’s right. I’m talking about GAS.