I have always been a firm believer that photographers should use and abuse their gear. This means that you shouldn’t be scared to get little scratches and minor nicks in your camera when you are out exploring for photos. This means that you shouldn’t handle your camera like a newborn child. This means that you shouldn’t worry more about the warranty than actually taking photos. This means that you shouldn’t leave your camera at home in fear of getting in stolen.
Photographers baby their gear far too much. I have seen all these gimmicky products on the internet like “Camera Armor” for your camera (which is a thin layer of rubber that goes around your camera to ‘protect’ it) that honestly don’t give you that much protection. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing that you need to truly ‘protect’ your camera is a lens-hood (can reduce the impact of shock to your camera if you drop it).
Two years ago I went backpacking through Europe and did the most horrific thing to my camera– dropping it on concrete from waist-level–twice. Surprisingly enough all I got was my camera knicked just a bit in the bottom-left corner. Sure my Canon 35mm f/2′s autofocus quit working, but after a quick send to Canon (and a hundred bucks) it was up and running.
My point is that we need to quit worrying about all the bad things that can happen to our cameras in favor of all the good things that we can do with our cameras. Fear paralyzes people, to the point that they will miss photo opportunities for fear of negative things happening to their gear. For example, I know photographers who never go out and shoot in the rain in fear of getting their camera a little wet–even when using an umbrella. Some of the best photographs I have captured was while in the rain. This goes the same with extremely dry or humid regions, or places where it is a bit sandy or muddy.
One thing that always pisses me off is when I see people have plastic over their expensive (and comfortable) furniture. It kills the experience of actually using the couch. Instead of lying on a nice and plush couch, all you feel is an unpleasant vinyl and sticky feel on your back. Sure it makes it look ‘nicer’ to look at, but kills the actual purpose of the couch. The same goes with camera gear. Would you prefer to see it pristine and in mint-condition on your shelf, or actually go out and use it for what it was meant to be used for?
Street photographers especially have to take using and abusing their gear in consideration when out and shooting. In trying to capture the fleeting moments of everyday life, we have to get down and gritty, shoot with our camera on the ground, and always keep it in our dangling bags to capture the decisive moment. Now I am not advocating for photographers to throw your cameras and lenses off cliffs, but to be sensible when weighing their options of using vs babying their gear.
So what is your take? Do you use and abuse your camera or baby it? Leave a comment below and chime in!