FeelingSmallNo5-1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
The time comes in the progress and development of every photographer for him or her to get new equipment. Maybe it’s just that you’ve outgrown your current rig, maybe it’s because you’re current setup is broken, outdated, got stolen, got left behind, or just some other reason, but it happens all the time. As much as people like me hate to admit it, photography is, very much, all about the gear.
So, I’ve been tossing around the notion of getting some new camera equipment. At first, I was all set on getting one of those new Composer lensbaby lenses, probably because I’m addicted to the concept of enjoying all the pinhole abstract goodness without any of the pesky pinhole-y dust. I still want a Composer and a pinhole optical kit, and probably will get one at some point, but I’m actually moving beyond just the Composer and starting to re-think my entire rig.
Those of you who know me, know too that I’m not one of those “gear head” photographers-I don’t look to amass equipment at an alarming rate, rather I actually just shoot a lot and tend to use whatever I have on hand. I like lighter, cheaper, stuff and tend to work it into the ground. Sure, I like to poke fun at those Lomo people but, deep down in my heart (as much as it pains me to admit it) I’m actually almost one of them. I like cheap gear, and like to think that great photography lies more in the imagination and less in the gear. I’m kind of proud of the fact that I can sell my images for more than what it would cost to buy my camera-it’s a great profit model when you stop to think about it. I try to force myself to ask the question, “what can you live without?” rather than “what do I need now?” because it really gets to the heart of what you’re doing with the gear you have, rather than just letting you waste away your life wanting something you really don’t even need. Wanting, even feeling you need, gear is really a curse-you end up being never satisfied, always wanting the next “big” thing, always chasing the “new, latest and greatest” rather than putting your efforts and energies into producing the work itself.
Every now and again, though, I shift my focus towards the gear. I like to have working equipment-stuff that lets me get the shots I want. When I start to dive into shopping for gear, I get very technical and really stop to think about what I’m doing, what I’m going to be doing, what I really need in a camera, what I would want, and which features I would just not use, no matter the cost. I think this process-a sort of self-exploration of one’s work-is good to do from time to time and, let’s face it, it’s been a long time since I’ve asked myself those burning questions. It’s very easy to keep on the status quo-to shoot the same gear all the time and just not think about it. I think though that I owe it to myself, and to my work, to, maybe every once in a while, stop and think about what I’m doing, where I’m going, what I really need, and what new stuff has come out that I could really use.
That brings us to today, the mood I’m in right now. I’ve started looking. I’ve started poking. I’ve started the tires rolling, the cogs in my brain slowly waking up, turning to life. I’m thinking it might be time to re-think some of my camera and equipment choices. I’m slowly starting to sell myself on a big camera upgrade.
Now, it hasn’t happened yet. Secretly, maybe half of me is hoping that somebody will take me aside, shake me by the scruff of the neck, wave a big finger in my face and say “No!” kind of like a dog who just peed on the carpet. Meanwhile, the other half of me actually, sort of, kind of, wants to go shopping.
Shopping for new camera gear isn’t inherently bad, is it? Does that make me evil? Maybe just a bit hypocritical? (Will those Lomo people hunt me down and burn me at some kind of lo-fi stake? Wait, what I am saying, stakes are lo-fi, if they were high-tech, they’d use an oven, a bit like those Natzi’s did during the war.)
Oh the horror.
Until next time…
My philosophy is pretty similar to yours. In my case if I'm spending too much on new products then chances are I'm actually avoiding doing the creative stuff. And certain artforms would not even have developed had scarcity not been the order of the day – like patchwork / quilting for example. But sometimes you want to try new techniques or styles and your existing equipment just won't support that – so it's time to go shopping! No it isn't bad. No you're not evil. No you're not hypocritical. Enjoy your shopping, Carol! Know that you deserve it!
I keep trying to convince myself that, after years and years of shooting, I deserve it, but I still can't pull the trigger without the pangs of guilt.
Then I think about the pictures I would take if I had a better rig and about how, if anybody deserve one, it should go to somebody who would actually use it, not just collect it, chimp it, and snob on about it all. Then, I'm full circle back to "but do I really need it?"
Oh, what a nightmare. I'm so indecisive sometimes.