“To Buy or Not To Buy,” That Is The Question
I don’t know about anybody else, but I have had “gear envy” more often than I like to admit.
I have told myself many times, “If I just had that lens (or new camera) I would be able to take better pictures.. AWESOME pictures!”
It’s really easy to get the “itch” for a new camera or some other piece of photography gear.
And, in my own defense, I like to think that with each piece of camera gear, I have gotten better as a photographer. But, is it because of the gear?
Maybe I have gotten better because I have learned more about the Art of photography rather than the equipment. In fact, I have long been a proponent of the idea that the gear does not make the picture, the photographer makes the picture.
But it sure is nice to be able to have the best camera or lens available, right?
What I have done in my reflections on gear vs craft is to come up with some reasons to put off buying and decide what are the important aspects of each shot.
And I have mentioned it before, but it is an important thought, “A good photographer can get a show-stopping shot using the most expensive camera or a cell phone or even a pin-hole camera.
So let’s take a look at some reasons to not buy the next best piece of camera gear.
- The way you see a shot is far more important than the camera you use to take the shot.
I have had many people look at my photos and say something like this. “That’s a great picture. I bet you have a really good camera.”
The fact is, I have a pretty good camera, but by professional standards, it is a beginner’s digital SLR, the Canon Rebel T4i.
What I have learned in the years that I have been serious about taking better pictures is to examine the shot before taking it. My “vision” has improved by leaps and bounds by “seeing” the shot before taking it.
This is something anyone can train themselves to do. Look at lots of photos and pick out the ones that really move you. How did the photographer take the shot? Is it something simple like changing the camera angle? You can learn tons about taking better pictures by examining good photographs.
- Having less camera gear will increase your creativity.
I know this sounds like a bit of a cop out for not buying, but, think about it. You will have less decisions to make if you have a simple camera kit.
With less gear, you have to make the best of what you have.. push the creative limits of your lenses or camera settings. For example, when you don’t have a long enough lens, figure out how you can get closer.
I did this with my bird pictures. It took some time and patience, but by bringing the birds to me, I was able to get some excellent shots without a really expensive long range lens.
The same is true for close-ups. I found out that a set of inexpensive extension tubes will make any lens into a macro lens.
- Less equipment will save physical stress.
Say what? With less gear in the camera bag, you will have less weight to carry around. On a hike, you will be able to travel farther and faster.
Also, on a trip or vacation, you won’t have to figure out how to store your gear when you can’t (or don’t want to) take it with you into a venue.
- Not buying builds character.
I know, another cop out. Oh no, exercising restraint definitely strengthens your self control and patience.
I have a very limited budget for my photo purchases. This is why I don’t have the most professional camera. As already mentioned, I can get good photos with the camera I have. And if I exercise patience, I end up with wiser purchases.
Another reason to save money by not buying is to have the cash when something comes along that will really make a difference in your photography.
One of the things that I am saving for is a good tripod. The one I have works fine, but it is not really as versatile as I would like to be able to get into tough positions (this goes back to #2 – I have to invent ways to get the tough shots). But, in the future, if I can avoid making other purchases, I will have enough saved up for that really good tripod. It will be a reward for being a good steward of my photo funds.
Before buying, take stock of the situation.
Do you really need that camera or gear?
One way to test your “need” is to put the item on a list, and wait for a month before making the purchase. If, at the end of the month, that item is still at the top of the list, and you still have a burning desire to get it, then maybe it is a good choice for you.
Keep practicing with the stuff you have. Learn how to use it to take different kinds of shots. You may surprise yourself with how much you can improve. I know I have.
If you have any suggestions for “Not buying camera gear” leave a comment. I would be happy to hear your perspective on this subject.