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You might not have thought about it, but photographers have their own set of behavioral issues, some of which can be serious. Of course, most of them are funny and rather harmless, but there are also potentially dangerous ones that can affect the photographer's career and personal life. One such disorder is known as GAS, or Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
It is a borderline obsession with gear and owning all the new and interesting stuff. If you're honest with yourself, you'll realize that all photographers, including you, are a little obsessed with gear. We all enjoy talking about it and comparing cameras and lenses. I used to divide photographers into those who care about photography and those who just like the gear. Now after a few more years of experience, I can safely say that no matter what kind of photographer you are, you are a potential victim of GAS.
If you already know yourself to be suffering from GAS and your spouse can barely stand you anymore, have no fear. There is a cure. Think of it as the nine step program.
Step 1 - Acknowledge your weakness
While drooling over the latest Nikon or Canon camera might not be as serious as a drug addiction, it is still important to be true to yourself and recognize that you have a problem. Now I'm not talking about the amateur photographer with an entry level DSLR who is saving up to buy a Nikon D750 because his needs demand it. There's nothing wrong with that. I'm talking about the photographer who already owns two D800s that are more than enough to meet his needs/skills, and is thinking about changing them for D810s because they're new and cool. If this a symptom for you, do yourself a favor and acknowledge your weakness. Just like in classic twelve step programs, the first step is to face your demons.
Step 2 -Try Film
Film might have gone away from mainstream photography, but it can still provide professional image quality if you shoot it and scan it correctly. With that said, film cameras never get old and most of them are built to last a lifetime. Legendary cameras like the Nikon FM2 or the F5 were made like tanks are were designed to not need replacements. You might not use them for your professional work, but you could at least challenge yourself to use them for personal work. That should be a challenge powerful enough to take your mind off buying more gear.
Step 3 - Get off gear forums
First of all, and I mean this in a non offensive way, the people on gear forums, particularly those who post multiple times a day, are not photographers. They might take pictures of flowers, birds and trees, but they are gear heads. They got into photography because they love the toys. They will tell you everything about any camera and even information you can't find from official sources, but if you ask them to comment on a Gregory Crewdson image or to break it down, they will be silent. To cure GAS, you must log out of any such forums.
Step 4 - Set your own limitations
One of the most important factors in curing yourself of the Gear Acquisition Syndrome is self-discipline. Only by being thorough in your approach can you stand a chance of being successful. That can mean setting uncomfortable limitations like putting your money in an account and keeping a limit on your credit card.
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Step 5 - Stop getting drinks with gear heads
Being involved in a local community of photographers can be very rewarding, not to mention educational. Just be careful about the crowd you hang out with. A night out between photographers sounds like a fun way to share experiences and learn new stuff, but it can quickly turn into a Canon vs. Nikon debate if the "risk factors" are at the table.
Step 6 - Get back to basics
There are so many photographers out there who have made their career using mostly a single camera and lens. If you break the process down, that is all you need. All the extra gear and the fancy stuff just gets between you and the subject. Sure, sometimes you need a set of lights or a tripod, but you can do a great job without a full bag of zoom lenses and three extra bodies.
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Step 7 - Recognize the overrated stuff
Amateurs and gear heads talk a lot about bokeh and sharpness. Here's one right between the eyes: they're both overrated. Look at some of the most important photographs in the history of the art and you will see they're grainy and far from being tack sharp. Heck, you can get sharper images with an iPhone. That's because photography is about something else and a tack sharp picture of something dull or stupid is a lot worse than a less detailed image of something interesting. Bokeh is also overrated and if you know your trade, a $100 50mm f1/.8 will give enough bokeh.
Step 8 - Do that math
Math might not be the favorite subject for many photographers, but in the fight against GAS it can prove very helpful. Let's say you're interested in buying a new camera body. Most pro cameras cost over $2000, but let's stick to that amount for the sake of the argument. Think of all the cool stuff you can do or buy with that kind of cash. You can buy round tickets to just about any place in the world. You can buy stuff that's a lot more useful, like books or you can invest some of it in a really cool photo shoot. The possibilities are countless. All you need is a little imagination.
Step 9 - Realize you just want o brag
Let's spend a minute being honest to ourselves. Every time we buy something, we tell ourselves it's an investment. Sometimes that's true for the most part, but there's also a secret reason behind each acquisition: bragging. We love to brag whether we know it or not. Even if you don't do it verbally, you love to show off your Zeiss 55mm f1/4 Otus Distagon. I guess its part of human nature. You also need to realize that no matter how cliché this sounds, objects are not going to make you happy as a photographer. Getting the shot of a lifetime will, but that needs something else to happen.