Stop Apologizing for Enjoying Camera Gear

Stop Apologizing for Enjoying Camera Gear

You can shoot a Vogue cover on an iPhone, stop wasting your money on new gear.

I once read an innocuous sentence that has stuck with me indefinitely: "if you make someone feel bad for being excited about something, you're the worst kind of person." Initially, I couldn't delineate why a pretty self-evident observation, not poetically expressed, had become a sort of earworm for me. Gradually the reason seeped in as I noticed this sort of behavior being commonplace. I noticed it with gamers who were excited for a new game, with sports fans excited for a big fixture, and television lovers for a new episode of a show. Each would be ridiculed for being tragic enough to look forward to such dross. Then, recently, I noticed it happening in the photography world, and it instantly highlighted the infestation of this relentless derision.

Earlier this month I waxed lyrical about my first experience with medium format in a normal setting, and at the same time, my first experience of Fujifilm. I was in Tokyo for Fujikina 2019 armed with their GFX 50R and become utterly entranced with the process of image creation using that camera in this handsome city. When you're either taking pictures, arranging the taking of pictures, or writing about something to do with taking pictures, losing yourself in the act is rarer than it once was. In a darkening realization, I couldn't remember the last time I just walked with a camera, taking pictures every few seconds, and having no interest in stopping or even eating. It was a beautiful regression, in part thanks to a city I'd never visited before, but also because of the camera and lens combination that I had clicked with. I came home and I stared at my collection of camera gear and wondered which I might sell to buy the partnership of glass and sensor that had me so love-struck. I observed that while I didn't need to switch, I wanted to; I was excited to, and I still plan to.

When a photographer fresh-faced, battle-hardened, or anywhere in between claims they're going to switch manufacturers, upgrade, downgrade, swap cameras, or just move in any direction, the naysayers burst from the surrounding seams like smoky apparitions. Thankfully, it was primarily outside of Fstoppers, but I had directed at me comments of how it wouldn't be a good use of money, questions of whether this was a slight toward my current cameras, and other attempts (possibly with the best intentions) to derail my train. I'm large enough and ugly enough to not take much notice — not least because I expected these remarks — and I went about my day. Though at some juncture later in the week, I realized that the sort of reaction you often see to people looking forward to new gear, is a dreary-eyed belligerence; a scrambling attempt to blot out the sunshine you're basking in. Now I've become aware of it, I can't move for examples.

So, with the little soap box I have, I want to stand and implore you — to entreat you — don't let these buggers bring you down. Luxuriate in the excitement of that new lens landing in your lap. Enjoy the exhilaration of fresh equipment endearing you. As a knock on my front door clicks me from my haze and I awkwardly finger-sign for a brown box with my name on it, I'm as feverish with anticipation now as I was when I got a Rebel XT and a kit lens a decade and a half ago. Photography is our passion and the tools with which we create are, by extension, the arbiters of how our passion takes shape. For Christ's sake don't bankrupt yourself or put yourself at risk, but if you can afford to acquire that new piece of kit, evade the jeers and jibes and guilt of G.A.S, instead being proudly child-like in the pleasure of your purchase.

We love photography and consequently the equipment that helps us create it. So as my Nan used to say, "if you don't like it, you can take a long walk off a short pier."

Log in or register to post comments

28 Comments

pick your hobby and enjoy it. if photography is your hobby and you can afford it, enjoy it and buy the gear you want. Set your budget and stay in it. if your budget is say $5,000 and your hobby is golf and you spend money on clubs and a golf club membership enjoy it, or buy a lens and book a photo tour. Enjoy you hobby and be happy.

I feel like we have gone from being happy and trying to support each other. To being negative and trying to bring each other down. This doesn't apply to everyone, Just observations I see, and find myself guilty of sometimes.

I just got back from vacation and this was the first trip I didn't have "camera envy" I don't have "the best camera on market". But, I like what I have and have no wants in my lens or body setups.

William Howell's picture

I agree with the article, getting new or used gear is fun.

the excitement for a new camera is the same over the years, but mostly for male photographers. In a professional context the gear and brand is very important still. what used to be RB67 is now H6D for fashion and commercial in general. for many reasons.Some related to the expected quality when somebody at the creative deptms of the marketing firm hires you. Mostly to cover himself in case we don't deliver. Imagine if we use out-of-standard stuff and then something goes wrong. who hired the studio now will have to explain. And they don't like that.
So to stay in business the rule#1 is to stay within the standards. Unless the studio has a reputation on it's own already (there are 4-5 studio in the world that get hired regardless. Indeed.But they rent the gear.
If I enjoy a new camera just because it's new? like the GFX100? immensely. And I'm in the business for 20+years. and I am also male. LOL

I'm sorry, can someone translate this? What relevance does being male have on enjoying new gear?

exactly what it says. Read it again. got it now? no? oh well.

Carl Murray's picture

Read it several times and legitimately do not understand how gender plays any part at all in regards to "the excitement for a new camera"

if you don't understand it then you don't understand it. You can try reading it few more times or google it.

Jordan McChesney's picture

Stop apologizing
Canadians: sorry.

But in all seriousness, I love photography, but it blows my mind what some people “shame” or make fun of other people for.

I agree, if a photographer enjoys new gear according to his affordability along with the photography, let him enjoy.

Except for the companies, noone benefits from gear wars.

Just enjoy your gear and photography

PS: have gfx-100s on my radar for next year although it's an overkill for what I do.

Will Murray's picture

"When you can go out with minimal gear, and create magic; that's when you've made it."

~ Ted Vieira

The psychology behind marketing and consumption is no different in photography to any other consumer good. Marketers conflate these things with objects that will make you happy. You purchase whatever object; and get a dump of neurotramsmitters as a reward. Nothing changes in your life; you are not happier; indeed, you are likely worse off after putting yourself further into debt.

But whatever floats your boat.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Perhaps your jealousy or disdain or whatever took over and you and couldn't finish the article, so here's what you (apparently) missed...
"For Christ's sake don't bankrupt yourself or put yourself at risk, but if you can afford to acquire that new piece of kit..."

Will Murray's picture

I missed nothing; and I'm not at all jealous.

Being well-adjusted to a profoundly broken society is no indication of good health.

I get your point and basically agree with you. The thrill of acquiring new gear only lasts for a moment, in my case. But, new gear does inspires me to get out and shoot. Usually I’ve purchased the gear for a specific reason and hope to get some good images in that genre. Also I will say that getting quality stuff has has that ineffable feeling, that certain something that makes handling it feel very satisfying. This is much more long term than the spike I get from a new purchase.

Even if you don’t go into debt for the item, I agree that you could still be worse off. In my case if I buy something on an impulse just to have that feeling you describe when you buy something, I can be left with a kind of “buyers remorse” and that isn’t comfortable.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Good article. Agree completely!
I went through a period where I developed a hobby within the hobby of photography and that was buying, trying, and reselling camera equipment. Off the top of my head I'd say I tried well over a dozen pieces of used equipment in a year and managed to make over $1000 in the process. But, more importantly it ended up teaching me about the nuances of certain features as well as non-spec-sheet qualities. I really enjoyed it!
Just... Have fun, folks. And to hell with what people think of you.

Studio 403's picture

While am sometimes jealous in positive way folks can buy high end gear for their hobby or business. I applaud those folks. And of course I am happy for anyone to pass on there Nikon 850, etc, he he . I think when folks chastise folks for expensive gear, the root issue in a spirit of envy. In many view, envy as a real practice is corrupt.

Love your articles. I want to ask about the name of bag in the first picture? It's so nice!

Some people enjoy owning and playing with "luxury" items, other people enjoy making great images with whatever lens they scooped up at a neighbor's garage sale. We all have fun in different ways. Money is for spending, though, and if you can afford it, new gear is sweet...

Keith Meinhold's picture

Sometimes I go down to the dock and look at the gleaming sportsfishing boats. I realize what I spend on my hobby pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands even millions of dollars these guys spend to catch a fish - and often throw back in.

Jonathon Rusnak's picture

New gear is always fun. New technology is always welcome. But the way the consumer is slowly fed these incremental updates to already amazing gear isn't.

I get your point but I think part of the backlash is because some people make such a big deal about getting new gear.

Do they get the joy of obtaining, learning and becoming proficient with the new gear or are they getting the joy from their ego bragging about it?

Getting new gear doesn't necessitate bragging about that or writing articles about why you did it.

Randy Nicholson's picture

Nice article and agree... I visit the downtown Toronto shops frequently and more often than not come out with something. It could be a clamp, a lens or most recently a couldn't pass up the price gift camera for my wife for upcoming travels...

Robert Nurse's picture

There's nothing quite like the feeling you get when the FedEx/UPS person delivers that shiny new piece of gear! But, an even better feeling is creating THAT image with that new gear! #drool

I have no problem with people getting new gear and being happy with it. I just wish they wouldn't insist I should get that same gear and be happy with it. :-/

Nick Haynes's picture

Or tell you how unhappy you ought to be with your current gear?

But yes... why not spend and enjoy the fruits.

I don't entirely disagree with the authors point, but it not cynical to point out that the online photography community has all but been completely co-opted by brands, ambassadors, influencers and delusional people hoping to become them.

Offline, no one cares about this stuff. No one engages in brand wars in the field. No one fetishises ultra, super, hyper tack sharp lenses. No one cares if you are using a knock-off Yongnuo or a branded flash.

The last time I remember arguing about the brand of something was PlayStation vs. Nintendo 64. I was about 12.

Gary Pardy's picture

"Enjoying" gear - either new gear or part of your current kit - is really important. I think the problems/issues/hate comes from those who see gear comparisons as disingenuous, overblown marketing, and that in some cases people are buying gear for the sake of buying gear and not to "elevate their craft" or something.

I've always found each new piece of kit - whether a new lens, speedlight, tripod, filter, etc. - as something to be "ENJOYED"! Professionals may have a more clinical perspective - you need the tools that you need for the shoot and you need it at a given time, that's it. For the hobbyists like myself, each piece changes and expands my practice just a little. I don't think I would enjoy my gear as much if I had bought it all at once.

But to each their own - you'll never see me hating on the Jones's next door with their a7R IV, their 135mm GM, even if they are only taking poorly lit JPEGs of their dog :) I just hope they enjoy it!

Manzur Fahim's picture

Nice article. Thank you. I've never been ashamed of buying new gear. There is this guy on my facebook, who every time I post something about gears, messages me and sends me his article link and tells me not to buy new gears hahaha....he is too persistent and he thinks everyone should use an entry level camera. His name is ION PACIU.

Thomas Yoxall's picture

For 18 years, I was an industrial and commercial contractor. I would relish the thought of purchasing a new tool(s) to make my job more efficient, easier if you will. I owned multiple toolboxes lined with apparatuses to complete any number of specific/generic tasks. I use this comparison when engaged in a discussion about photographic gear and equipment since, at this current moment, I do photography for a living.

My camera bag is my toolbox, and consequently, my cameras, lens, lights, filters, etc., are my tools. I would not use my monochrome rangefinder to shoot a three-gun match for a client no more than my mirrorless gear to capture the Chicago streets for my gratification and enrichment. I use a micro 4/3 system with my BMPCC because they share the same lens mount and for the times, I need still images as well as video, this duo runs the race for me. My point is new gear purchases are inevitable. Whether they serve a purpose, purposely serve, or somewhere in between, no one should be ridiculed for their decision, or reasonings for doing so.

My point is, can you use one body, one lens, to capture fantastic images, yes. Is this a mandatory prerequisite for being a genuinely skillful professional photographer, no. If anything, those who are so narrow-mindedly limiting themselves by this deprecative thought process miss out on the joy of discovery and creative experimentation. Of course, this rationale may also be driven by fear, envy, or the simple need, yet destructive desire, to make others miserable. Whatever your motives may be, if you are this person, I pity you.

To the gentleman who valiantly attempted to make this topic a discussion on gender bias, shame on you. Please find a thread on Reddit to troll. For the man who chose to open with an obscure quote from Ted Vieira, which this person is entitled to his interpretation of the said quote, try quoting Niche, Jung, or even Thoreau next time. I am quite confident you will find something more philosophically sustaining to edify your position and argument.