G.A.S. stands for Gear Acquisition Syndrome. It’s when photographers (usually middle-aged, usually pony-tailed) spend ten times as much time buying gear than actually going out and making photos. It’s essentially boys’ love for collecting toys manifesting itself in adulthood. When my nephew goes to take a bath each night, he needs to take 50 toy cars of all shapes and sizes with him, even though he’s only going to play with a few. Photographers who have dozens of camera bodies, lenses, flashes, filters, etc. are no different.
For reasons I’ll never understand, every milestone in my time spent as a photographer has triggered a severe case of G.A.S. When I got my first point-and-shoot, I wanted to upgrade to a DSLR since they produced better technical image quality. When I got my first DSLR, I wanted nicer lenses because I thought that alone would create better photos. When I got bored snapping photos of my feet to test how good my various lenses were, I started looking in to shooting film. Film has proven to be the deepest rabbit hole of them all. Because once you start messing with film gear, you start comparing formats, grain quality, different camera styles, and so on.
Rather than going into detail about the worst cases of G.A.S. I’ve ever had, and the wack cameras I purchased as a result, I’d like to talk about the methods I’ve learned to rid oneself of G.A.S.
- Remember that new gear won’t make you a better photographer. It might make you a tiny bit more knowledgeable about the technical aspects of taking photos, and it might teach you something about your preferences for certain types of gear. Ultimately, you’re the one who needs to hit the streets and make photos to grow as a photographer.
- For every great shot you see on Flickr attributed to a particular piece of gear, there are lots of mediocre ones, and more still that weren’t good enough to upload. You might think that a great photo taken with an obscure 40-year-old camera means that camera is legit, but usually it’s posted by somebody who knows what they’re doing and can make a good photo with whatever gear you put in front of them.
- Appreciate the gear you already have. From time to time I get these unstoppable urges to browse eBay until all hours of the night looking for a camera just because it looked pretty in somebody’s #whatsinmybag photo on Instagram. Recently, I got it into my brain that I wanted, no, needed a Nikon FE-2. One thing I’ve taught myself to do in moments like this is pick up a piece of gear I acquired during a previous bout of G.A.S., some piece of equipment that I told myself at the time “This is the last camera/lens I’m ever going to need!” Luckily, my all-time favorite camera is a pristine Nikon FE I affectionately refer to as Felina, and shooting with her for one afternoon reminds me of why I really don’t need any other cameras at my hip.
Still, every now and then the temptation to get a new camera hits. If anybody has any methods for relieving G.A.S. I’d love to hear them. Also, if anybody recognized the Tommy Lee Jones quote in the title before reading this, kudos. Kudos.