Today I'm talking about photo gear. Something we as photographers tend to love, especially new gear. Anybody else love the smell of new electronics?
As photographers we are in the somewhat unique position where our tools are important. But sometimes I think we can treat them as if they are a little too important. What do I mean? Let's say you are a painter, how often do you think you would wax poetic about the latest design of paint brushes? Or a new paint? I suppose if they were amazing paint brushes you might have a few conversations about them lasting all of about 5 minutes. You probably aren't spending your days dreaming about them. Probably aren't imaging how much better your painting would be if you just had that new canvas, or easel.
With modern digital photography we do spend time waxing poetic about the newest camera our particular brand offers(or even dreaming of changing brands because the grass is always greener...). We do spend time dreaming about how that new lens will improve our photography. While some photographers might be dreaming of the newest latest cutting edge gear, the next photographer might be saving their money for a large format film camera, and putting a dark room in their house. Gear is just that fun.
I'll be the first to say I love new camera gear(I even got a new lensbaby for Christmas - another post on another day about that). But I think that love has to be seriously tempered with thought, restraint, and a knowledge of our artistic vision. If you are just starting out then, yes, you do need the basics. A camera of some type, a lens or two, CF or SD cards, maybe a tripod. Yes, you do need those, but after that you need to start using what you have. Develop your sense of style. What is your photography niche? What fills you with passion? With this kind of thought and deliberation, you can start thinking about whether or not that new camera is necessary.
I don't think anyone should tell you what your style is. If you want to own all the gear on the planet(and have the budget for it), then go for it! However, I would like to caution that all the gear on the planet will not make you a better photographer. In fact, I would go so far as to say that there is no gear you can buy that will make you a better photographer. If you have a need for something specific - say, you like shallow depth of field, but you don't have any fast lenses - then you will like your photographs more if you get a faster lens. But your photographs will not suddenly turn into masterpieces. Bad photographs with good gear do not suddenly get good! Boring compositions don't become awesome simply by paying more for your lenses!
I personally dislike spending money(unless it's a really good deal). I will often try to make do with less then I need. Fortunately, my husband thinks that's ridiculous, and will encourage me to get what I need! I also dislike carrying a lot of gear with me. Lugging gear, and constantly switching lenses on site tends to hamper my style and get in the way of my creativity. So what's my photography style? My style is definitely minimalism, whenever possible.
So my advice is, learn to use the gear you have, make do with it, discover your style, and use your current gear. Really use it - learn it inside and out. Then, you can make informed decisions about what gear can actually give you the results you want. The added bonus - your wallet will thank you, and you won't have to drag so much gear around!
So what's your style? Do you like the latest and greatest? Or do you hate lugging gear around?