This article by Josh White, a street photographer based out of Korea. This article originally appeared on Josh’s blog here.
Gear Acquisition Syndrome (abbreviated to GAS) is a term used to describe an urge to acquire and accumulate lots of gear.
GAS hasn’t received any major medical attention. GAS is not a clinical condition. It can be the result of a psychological lack of personality.
A lot of people have asked me a lot lately about cameras and getting over the feeling of wanting every f*cking camera you see. As much as I hate gear talk now, I really feel like this post is necessary.
I had sorta decided to just ignore requests to talk about this topic. I’ve just really come to absolutely despise talking about gear and equipment. It pissed me off to see people talking about it. Just feeding the monster, ha.
But, this week a good friend of mine had read an interview I had recently done where I mentioned the first camera I ever loved and the only one I actually ever kept; a Leica Digilux 2. It was the first camera I ever bought that I really can say I really was attached to. It was also like a gateway drug to the world of Leica that saw me spend 50k in the next three years. All the while the first camera I ever picked up for something that mattered was that old Digilux 2. That friend had had the camera for a while and decided to send it to me after a talk last week. Grateful for that.
The photos I’m using in this post are some I did in Toronto on assignment (Aside from the last, haha). It was documenting the cultural diversity of Toronto. In this particular situation my M9 battery died after 30 or so photos for no apparent reason so I did the rest of the night with the Digilux. I didn’t end up using a single photo from the M9.
It’s all bullshit isn’t it? I’m a member of a bunch of different groups in Seoul and I have just about given up on all of them. I am sick of going and hearing people talk about nothing other than their gear. The last time I went to one it was just a Google session with the members sitting around a coffee shop trying to figure out which versions of the Summiluxicronarit they have. Who gives a f*ck?
How about this for a Google session. How about using Google to say, I don’t know, search for SOME PHOTOS. How about spending the thousands of dollars you’ve spent on the Canon 50mm f1.2 or Sony RXwhatever the f*ck it is called and buy a photo book and go on a trip. Invest in knowledge and experience.
I left that particular group after realizing that I had said the previous aloud(with more expletives) while daydreaming that I had wanted to say it. The poor girl sitting next to me looked like she had thought I had a seizure. She then quickly asked me, ‘so what camera are you using then?”
People will always argue the point that they “need” certain cameras or lenses for certain things. Things like BOKEH, HA. Okay, so that argument is still somewhat true. I like a bit of BOKEH every now and then when I want to get some likes from my idiot Facebook friends or go explored on Flickr. Do I need a Noctilux and a Leica M240495043? No, No, and No. Oh, and NO! I have an ancient Sony DSLR and a more ancient Minolta 50mm lens that works just fine.
You can ask my Facebook friends, they seem to like it. Total cost is less than dinner at an expensive Seoul restaurant. I can probably eat at said hypothetical restaurant everyday for like the rest of my adulthood for the money I would save from buying a Noctilux. Plus, I think I can make more friends with some food BOKEH photos from said restaurant a lot more easily than by talking about the way aperture blade arrangement change the characteristics of spherical elements of whatever of whatever of whatever………
End of angry rant, ha. Honestly though, it has taken me a long time to figure this out myself. I was as guilty as anyone and thus is perhaps why I am prone to spontaneous outbursts of anti-GAS frustration. If you’re made of money, fine. Buy whatever makes you happy and whatever you think will help you make friends.
If you’re not made of money, save for the dates you will invariably be able to go on after you stop talking about the significance of full frame sensors vs crop frame sensors to everyone you meet. If you feel like there is a more reasonable reason for why you’ve recently bought some new camera or lens then you are most definitely kidding yourself.
Some people I meet say they don’t suffer from GAS. Or, they say they buy cameras because they like them. Or, they say they “need” things the newest LECANIKON can do. They say that none of these things apply to them. They almost always say “I do it for me, not for other people”. Trust me, as a recovering addict I can tell you if you think you don’t suffer from any of these things but have bought camera equipment in the past six months you’re probably in denial.
Ask yourself have you ever taken a photo of your camera? Have you taken a photo of your lens? Have you taken a photo with your bag on the floor and all your gear spread out like some sort of dissection? I’ve done all of the above and I’m quite sure I didn’t do it for any other reason than from some weird subconscious “need” to show off. Maybe my kindergarten teacher didn’t have show-and-tell day often enough. The fact that some people don’t know they’re doing these things is both more ridiculous and more dangerous.
In the end, we are all f*cking geeks. The question you should ask yourself is this:
Do you want to be a PHOTO geek or a CAMERA geek?
There is most definitely a difference.
Anyway, to those of you who really dislike gear talk accept my humblest of apologies. Regular scheduled programming to return soon. Also, I’m planning a trip to Hong Kong if anyone is there let me know. Unless you’re a GAS sufferer.
I don’t think that situation would be good for my health.
Anyway, peace kids.
I have a photo of my Leica Digilux 2 to find so I can Instagram it.
You can also read my interview with Josh White here: What You Feel is What You See: Interview with Josh White from Seoul
If you suffer from GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), I recommend these articles below: