Overcoming Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
In a time where technology advances and its costs increases at a pace faster than the average income can increase, we need to be very careful. Gear Acquisition Syndrome can become rather crippling in terms of both your bank account, as well as your camera bag.
I experienced this syndrome early on in my career and it didn’t slow down until I started Timm Creative in the beginning of 2019.
6 Years and a whole bunch of gear later, I realised that I need to be selective in what I buy. Not only do I want to save money, but I also need to ensure that the money I do spend works for me. No need to invest in gear I either won’t need/use or add to the weight in my bag.
In my experience, here are 5 ways of kicking Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
1) Your Gear Doesn’t Make The Image.
Watch any video on Youtube about amateurs with pro cameras and pros with amateur cameras and you’ll see that there is a clear distinction between experience and no experience. Many people have “the eye“ for a good image and can capture it effortlessly with a mobile phone.
Focusing on your vision is more important than what gear you shoot with. My very first image sale was to a magazine for the cover and that was shot on my iPhone 6s+. Focus on what you want to capture!
2) Borrow or Rent Gear You Want.
This point goes hand-in-hand with the first point I made. If you have a vision, a client, a budget and some gear, but need that one 100mm Macro lens, go borrow or rent it. Why spend your full rate to buy the lens if in all the time you’ve been shooting, you’ve only needed it a handful of times. If you find that you’re using a specific piece of gear more often, then it may be worth considering investing in it.
Getting to use gear you’re tempted to buy for a while may also scratch that itch and save you a lot of money. I know many photographers, including myself, that justify expensive gear with one job, but then having the gear sit in a cupboard. This kind of Gear Acquisition Syndrome is expensive and unnecessary.
3) Have a Full Bag Policy
I invested in a good bag to keep my gear safe and tidy. Everything I have in the bag serves a purpose. I haven’t had one situation where I’ve had to take something out in order to make space for something else.
I thus use a ”Full Bag Policy” to justify new gear. Once my bag is full, I need to either sell a piece of gear and replace it, or I need to be able to make space for it in my one bag. This forces me to think about why I want the new piece of gear, and whether I would be willing to sell something else in my bag for it.
4) Have a Financial Gatekeeper.
I have Amber, she’s my fiancé, my best friend, and my financial gatekeeper. I love her very much, but she’s honest without sparing my feelings. She’s been around for my entire photography career, and is my go-to before buying new gear.
Having an Amber on your side allows you the opportunity to get a different opinion before purchasing something. It generally helps you see whether the gear you want is a need of yours. This can be a business partner, life partner, or even a parent. It’s just important to not rush into it.
5) Decide if You NEED or WANT it.
This goes with the gatekeeper. Knowing whether a piece of gear is going to make you money, or cost you money (Spoiler: It’s usually the latter) is very important. I would say that 80% of the time I WANT something more that I NEED it. This was visible in the time when I was running around with a Canon and a Fujifilm.
While the Fuji did EXACTLY what I needed, I still wanted to keep my Canon, and that meant that I had money laying in a bag that could’ve worked for me. Buying specific pieces of gear for the sake of saying you own it also leads to an unhealthy level of Gear Acquisition Syndrome. When shooting video and you’re managing with your Sony A7iii, you definitely don’t need to go buy a RED EPIC in order to take it to the next level.
6) Go Out And Create.
Focusing on what you already own, what it can do, and exploring and expanding your eye and knowledge will allow you an opportunity to see the value of what you have. I often just stick a 50mm on my camera and hit the streets to create and almost every time I get home with images that blow my mind.
Developing the skill of seeing a moment, a composition, an emotion, or angle is exactly what’s going to add life to your images. A new, more expensive, or unique lens may enhance that vision, but ultimately you need the knowledge before gear can add anything to it
The main reason I fell into this Gear Acquisition Syndrome trap is due to sitting at home, watching Youtube videos on new gear launches, reviews, and promotional videos trying to sell the product to me (Usually pretty successfully).
As content creators we should have the ability to pick up any form of camera and create great visuals. Many
Ultimately it’s your vision that brings you opportunity.
Go Forth and Create.
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