Posted inLearn From the Masters

Learn From the Masters: Lesson #7 Don’t Be a Slave to Your Camera

Copyright: Anders Petersen
Copyright: Anders Petersen

“You are not supposed to be a slave of mechanical tools, they are supposed to help you and be as small and unimportant as possible not to disturb the communication.” – Anders Petersen

There is a disease and a sickness out there. It afflicts thousands (if not millions) of photographers globally, and it costs people hundreds and thousands of dollars. This disease breeds insecurity amongst photographers, and causes photographers to make tons of excuses about their photography.

The disease? It is called “G.A.S.” (gear acquisition syndrome). The concept is that you become addicted to getting new cameras, new gear, new lenses, and new gadgets in photography (rather than focusing on just becoming a better photographer). You make excuses about your gear, and that your camera and equipment is holding you back. You tell yourself, “Oh if I just had camera ‘X’ I would be more inspired in my photography, and take better photos.

I personally still suffer from G.A.S. Whenever I am dissatisfied with my photography, I always think that buying a new camera or lens will help inspire me to become a better photographer. It never does.

The only real way that I have improved my photography is by traveling, attending photography workshops, buying books (not gear), and by just shooting.

I have discovered that when you are actually out shooting, you become very unaware of your camera. You get caught in the “flow” of shooting— and all the excuses about your camera or lens disappear. You become one with your camera, and it is almost as if the photos take themselves.

I always lust for gear when I spend too much time online and on gear forums or review sites. Beware: 99.9% of the photography sites online are just dedicated to gear (as advertising and affiliate sales of cameras drive the photography industry).

How can you cure yourself of “G.A.S”? Unsubscribe (or block) all gear review websites, and whenever you have the urge to buy a new gear just buy a photography book. Realize that your camera is just a tool to create images.

As photographer Anders Petersen tells us, just try to get a small camera that is unobtrusive and focus on making images. He shoots with a simple Contax T3 (a point-and-shoot 35mm camera), and focuses on the emotion in his photos. Focus less on the camera, focus more on shooting, telling stories, and use your cash to travel.