I see too many photographers worrying about their gear more than capturing the image. As photographers, we love gear; we love buying it, talking about it, reading about it and writing about it. Owning, researching and showcasing photography gear is a hobby in itself. I’ve met so many photographers with far better and newer gear than me. Amateurs often have better gear than me. But I’ll tell you one thing: I’m not afraid to use it, and I’m willing to sacrifice my camera if I must for that perfect shot.
All the gear in the world, but only two hands to hold it.
This is a mistake a lot of newcomers to our profession make, as well as those with high anxiety. They pack all the gear, 5+ lenses, even though they have a single zoom that covers all their focal lengths. They have multiple bodies in case one runs out of battery. And they hate packing it, carrying it around and worrying about where to put it. I have met photographers who complain about lugging around gear, and are so afraid to leave it out of their sight that it’s safer at home in a cupboard, apart from the main one they use 90% of the time. Because, well, having all that gear makes them feel like a true photographer – whatever that is.
Don’t buy a camera you can’t afford to replace.
If we buy a camera we can’t afford to replace or insure it, so we put it somewhere safe, like a camera cabinet, to avoid dust, corrosion and, well, being used. How many people buy a Leica or new whatever just to admire it, and never take it outside in the rain? A lot, I’ve seen photographers protecting water-sealed cameras with umbrellas. When all they should care about is if the lens gets moisture on it. If you want to see how you should use your camera in extreme weather conditions, read this article – link. Please, for the love of photography, if your camera gear is so expensive you can’t replace it, or you don’t want to risk damaging your camera, then, honestly, you couldn’t afford that camera in the first place.
The things you own end up owning you.
“The things you own end up owning you.” This famous quote from the book Fight Club, written by Chuck Palahniuk, hits home so hard. I used to care about all my gear; I wanted the best, newest camera. I wanted it so that I wasn’t limited; I could capture and create any image I wanted. I used to think that gear opened up possibilities, new ways of shooting and capturing an image. I used to think that owning my dream camera would make me content with photography gear, that I wouldn’t need or want anything else. But time moves on, technology gets better. I realised that, as soon as you buy a bit of gear, it’s obsolete the moment you take it out of the box. You can’t win this game. As a result, you end up chasing the magic dragon, never catching it, and before you know it, it’s got you.
Time using the tool is more important than time owning the tool.
Having a camera is all well and good. The hours you own a bit of gear are nowhere near as important as the amount of time you’re using it. I have met people who have taken photographs all their lives; they owned a camera when they were a kid, and now they are in their late 60s to 80s. I know You and I are better photographers than them, because you and I have been behind our cameras a lot longer than they have. I have been behind the viewfinder because of my 9 to 5, 5 days a week job, for the past 10 years. Let’s be modest and say half that time, I was probably editing. That’s over 9000 hours behind a camera taking photos. Not quite the 10,000-hour rule, but better than most; 18,000 if we didn’t half it, just saying.
Buy the camera you’ll use, not the camera you want.
When I say this, get the camera you will use more than you will look at and admire. Get the camera you are willing to drop in the sand for the shot. Get the camera that you can replace if it gets water damage. Buy the camera you’ll use, not the camera you want. Because, at the end of the day, there is always going to be a newer, better camera around the corner. Why not be happy with the one you already have? Spend that time taking photographs now, instead of dreaming about taking photographs with something you don’t already have.