How I got out of G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)
I believe every photographer has been through the G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) at some point in their photography career. Are you thinking about buying a new camera? A new lens you think you need? A tripod or a camera bag? Or a new printer that you have been thinking for awhile? All the above correctly describe the Gear Acquisition Syndrome I have! I do still suffer from it but in a more manageable condition. Here I am sharing what I had been through and what I learned from my struggles.
As an aspiring photographer, I was struggling for a long time. Self-promotion is not my strength and lacking confidence certainly didn't help launch my photography career. What this led to next were anxiety and depression. If you are in the same boat as me, you know what comes next. Retail therapy was like a well with infinite depth. Always looking for the next best gear to buy, and fantasizing how it was going to improve my photography work. Although I was lucky enough not to crank up a high credit card debt, there were still lessons I learned from my purchases. It was brutally painful to face the truth, but I am glad I finally did.
If you are still thinking about buying this and that, you probably are not ready to read this.
While technology advances, new gears do help to an extent. New hardware will improve many of the technicality aspects, but not the images I was creating. During my struggle, I decided to use a break from photography to take a second look at my decisions. As someone who has graduated with graphic design and has an art degree, I went back to my roots. I started doing more graphic design and illustration work while I was processing all that. Let's take my illustration work as an example. Continuing to buy better paper, more pens, or more art tools is not going to help my work much. Sometimes new and improved tools provide a greater experience in creative work, but at the end, it is the idea that comes from our brain that is going to make a difference. It is much easier to see it when I am working on illustration work. Owning hundreds of pens is not going to turn me into Picasso, plain and simple. With photography, it is easier to fool me because a new camera has so much bell and whistle that I can lose myself in it and not face the fact that it is just a tool. In the end, I was hopping from one camera to another, focusing too much on the technical aspect and didn't allow myself to be more creative. Yes, buying camera gears is fun. I can continue to buy newer and better cameras, maybe a Leica, but what people are impressed with is the red dot on my camera and not the image I capture on the sensor. Saying all this, it doesn't mean I gave up photography. I won't and probably never will. Instead, I found a different way of doing it, which suits me well but that's another story to be told.
When the desire of getting more photography gears hits you, you may want to ask yourself; do you need it? Are there are more issues beneath that uncontrollable desire. To be honest, I felt stuck when that happened to me. Unable to find solutions for problems led to the retail therapy session. It was always easier to use that adrenaline rush to overshadow my issues. Sometimes, events in personal life were so much pain that I was buying a temporary fix. Most of my purchases were never about real needs; each purchase represents some perceptual issues that blinded my perspective in life.
Once in a while, it is useful to take a pause, spend some time to deal with the real challenges in life. For me, I took some time off from photography to do illustration and design. When I got back to doing photography, I started to have a better idea regarding my direction. Everyone is going to have a different path in life; I needed to take a break so that I had the courage to admit what wasn't working and pushed the reset button. Remember not to be too harsh on yourself, and sometimes you may have to push your reset button a few times before you can see clearer. Being honest with yourself is going to be much harder than you would imagine. Next time when you have the urge to buy new gear, why not ask yourself, do you really need it? Is your work going to be affected without it? Be honest to your mind, and be tender to your heart. Deal with issues in life is going to be much beneficial in the long term than sinking yourself into G.A.S.