I’ve made a fundamental mistake. I knew there was a risk of it happening but it crept up slowly and without notice. Slowly I’ve traded studying the craft of photography with studying the equipment and technology.
One classic example is the Canon 50mm lens that I use for videography work. I started with the f/1.8 lens that did everything I needed. I started reading how great the f/1.4 lens is and the desire to upgrade was like a magnet.
A year with the f/1.4 and you guessed it, I was spending time on the Canon 50mm f/1.2 group. Now it is how much better the f/1.2 is over the 1.4.
I saved, and saved a little more, I sold my f/1.4, I sold a spare flash. Eventually I had gathered up enough to invest in Canon’s flagship f/1.2 50mm lens. I expected the ultimate fulfilment, worse I expected my photos to be transformed into unbelievable works of art.
Don’t get me wrong the 50mm f/1.2 is a stunning lens. I really struggled to save to pay for it but the reality was the f/1.4 is a great lens. I had fallen into the trap of unconsciously thinking ………
“My photography would be so much better if I just had…”
It is a terrible place to be and remarkably hollow. I decided to take a look at where I found my photography inspiration.
I started off subscribing to the feeds of photographers I have always admired. Zack Arias, Jeremy Cowart and many others who shared the same interest.
A year ago my RSS reader was predominantly the feeds of photographers studying their craft. In just over twelve months my interest had moved to feeds focused on reviews and the technical aspects of photography.
I have slowly become more interested in gear that wasn’t even released rather than the craft of photography.
The result was repeatedly and consistently dissatisfaction. Photographers do this all the time, on photo walks, meet ups the conversation is always equipment focused. I wonder how many writers get together to compare the pencils they use and actually, if pencil envy exists?
Interestingly, I keep being asked when the Fujifilm X200 will be released. Fujifilm expect to see the X100 around for some time to come with the release of the WCL-X100 adaptor. It is photographers who are creating the demand and expecting a refresh after 12 month.
The turning point
I am making changes, the review websites have gone. I now have 30 feeds from great photographers regularly sharing their experiences.
As for kit, I am remarkably lucky to have the gear I have, a fact I truly appreciate. The time has come to streamline and set limits. To this end I have reduced my EF lens collection to just two lenses as, if the 50mm f/1.2 is so good I convinced myself I needed it then I shouldn’t really need an array of addition lenses covering every focal length especially as this kit is used primarily for video work.
I realise I cannot ‘bang on’ how great the Fujifilm X-Pro1 is while keeping my eye on magazines for the latest incarnation. Both the Canon and the Fuji systems are stunning and they are built to last. For me personally, last they will! I have decided to put in place a ‘strict upgrade when wrecked policy‘.
As photographers we should be consuming our craft not our technology. The “my photography would be so much better if I just had….” thought process is simply the road to misery. This approach will have very little impact on the quality of our images and it offers little satisfaction.
Photographers take photos not cameras. It is more important to improve the photographer than improve the camera.