Recently I am feeling very messed up. Instead of enriching myself with useful skills, I allowed myself to be engulfed by gears.
I spent time scrolling eBay, Carousell, clubsnap and reading camera review sites.
Even though I have more cameras than I need, I wasn’t feeling satisfied.
I expanded my purchasing limit. For example, when I was starting out photography hobby in 2011, the maximum I would spend on a camera was $1000. That was being conned to buy many unnecessary accessories in Sim Lim Square.
Before year 2016, I wouldn’t give a second thought on anything that was more than $1000. Buying a $300 50mm 1.8G Nikon lens was also the maximum money I would pump into photography.
As months went by, I started learning more and seeing more photographs. After attending photography courses, I invested in a $2500 mirrorless camera. Since then, anything that is less than $2500, I see it as affordable.
To cut the story short, I am addicted to camera. I am greedy.
How to help myself?
I list out a few solutions to see if they help:
1. My photography doesn’t improve with more gear
Somehow, we are made to believe that the more expensive the camera you own, the better your photos will look. People will tell you why photographers use full-frame cameras and why you should do, too. But they are professionals. Their rice bowls depend on their photos.
Am I earning money through photography? No. Then who cares what I shoot my photos with?
2. It’s better to use a basic gear to impress people
Human’s mind is funny and jealousy. When you see a nice photo, the first thought will most likely be ‘which camera did they use? Must be an expensive camera!’ Instead of asking ‘how did they come to find out this composition, etc’.
If your photos are sharp, people would say ‘that’s because she uses X-pro 2’ or ‘that’s because she got Leica lens’.
So why not do the opposite?
Use a camera you already own and impress people with the image. Maybe a smart phone.
‘Wow, nice photos, did you use Leica?’
‘Nope, Nikon FM2’
‘Wow, you are talented!’
You get my point?
Well, it’s easier said than done. I don’t even know if I can do it.
The thing is we should not take photos to impress, but to find self-satisfaction.
3. Be contended
Currently, in my collection, I have Lomography La Sardina, Nikon FM2, Leica M6, Rollei B35, Contax TVS, Rolleiflex TLR and Hasselblad 500CM.
I have more than enough. If I were to purge, Rollei B35 will be the first to go, followed by Contax TVS. Not sure about Lomography as the winding of this camera is very inconsistent. I don’t want to sell others a lemon. The finalist keepers will be Leica M6 and Rolleiflex.
4. The more, not the merrier
In life, Buddha taught us to go the middle path. Not too much, not too little.
If you eat too much food, you feel bloated. It affects your digestion. If you have too much money, you worry where to keep them (not my worry at all cos I don’t have that much money haha). If you have too many cameras, you have troubles trying to use them frequently. (Not comparing it with professionals where they got the time to shoot frequently)
Having too many gears, you end up spending more, worry more. For example, if you have 10 lenses of different characteristics and specifications, you need to buy 10 lens filters, 10 lens hood, 10 colour filters. If 10 of them grow fungus at the same time, you spend 10X the money to service them.
Messed up right?
5. Focus on photography, not gear
I want to remind myself that I need to focus on taking photos and not analysing gears.
See, the time I spent googling about gears and sourcing for them, I could have used those time to read books or go out to shoot.
6. Save more, is to spend less
If I don’t spend that $800 on a Contax T2, I earn $800 in my bank account.
As I am now trying to resist the temptation. I keep reminding myself: Do not spend.
Another ‘technique’ is to compare what else can I do with this $800?
I could have bought an air ticket to Japan? To Australia?
This $800 could helped a leukaemic kid? (Yes, it does)
This $800 could pay my rent!
7. Suppress peer pressure
I thought the concept of peer pressure only applies to school kids. Wrong. It applies to everyone.
I guess it impacts school kids the most is because kids are vulnerable to comparison with peers when they are at the stage of puberty. Everyone wants attention, wants to be cool in school.
So, I realised I, too, behaved like school kid. I wanted to be the coolest, use the best gear.
Then I realised even though I am using a $1000 film camera, my photos are still inferior to someone who’s using a $250 medium format camera. Because the other person knows how to control her camera and put in effort to improve composition. This brings me back to point 1: photography does not magically improve with improved gear.
Instead of chasing the best gear, I should be chasing to improve my composition, with whatever gear I have on hands.
8. I am a photography enthusiast, not camera collectors
My purpose is to take good photos so if I ever have the chance to look back at all of them, I would feel proud. Feel proud that I helped to ‘preserve’ moments and memories. To let the young know how their lands and elders looked like 10, 20, 30 years ago.
I own expensive camera, I become very attach to it. Especially if they are the cameras that took me a long time to hunt for. For instance, mint Leica M6, mint Rolleiflex and quite-mint Hasselblad.
I protect them like babies.
Since my Rollei B35 is not as valuable or difficult to hunt for, I don’t feel too attach to it. I mean if it was to be stolen, I would feel angry and then just get a another one.
Detach in a sense that I need to make cameras my slaves, not be a slave to my cameras.
10. Avoid and be disciplined
As of now, I am suppressing the urge to get the Contax T2 because this rare gem is on Carousell right now.
If I didn’t download the app, I wouldn’t stirred up my desire.
I also use all the points listed here to stop me from getting it. Owning Contax T2 will not improve my skills. Owning Contax T2 is an additional burden to my (camera) nanny duty. Owning Contax T2 means I have lesser money in my savings. To be good at film photography, I do not need Contax T2.
Phew… What a long blog to deter my desire. I feel that I am pouring all my insecurities and some inner secrets/shame out. Nonetheless, an untrained & unsatisfied mind is very difficult to settle. You may expect a few more of such posts coming up if I find myself resisting the desire again.
I hope this blog post will also be of help to you, if you are in the midst of deciding whether to buy (more) a certain camera. At least the ‘tips’ helped to loosen my desire at the moment.
Remember, if you need persuasion/reason to buy something, don’t buy. Because if you need the item, you do not need to be persuaded. There’s a difference between needs and wants.
Till next time!