After receiving yet another email stating that my new camera order is still backordered, it is becoming even more difficult to fight the urge to look at other options.
I have a problem: I have no willpower. In almost any situation, given the choice between options, I will almost inevitably choose “all of the above.” It goes well beyond photography. For a man who only possesses two feet, there is literally no practical reason why I need three separate closets lined with shoes. And as I documented my struggle with weight in the past, it mostly boils down to an inability the know when to stop.
Fortunately, I have a superpower. We all have them. And like many of you, I rely on my superpower to overcome my areas of weakness. My superpower? Discipline.
If given the an immediate burst of free will to either make the right choice or overconsume, I can be in trouble. But I am very good at making plans and sticking to them through thick and thin. It is this discipline to deny my own free will and stick to a set schedule of predetermined choices that helps me regulate my consumption and avoid excess.
Here’s a brief example. I love pizza. For all the gourmet dining I’ve been blessed to enjoy over the years, and the multitude of unbelievable chefs I’ve been surrounded by, nothing truly strikes my taste buds quite as squarely as a slice with sausage and pepperoni.
Like many, prior to changing my life and my physique, food was just one of the many things I used as a Band-Aid to make myself feel better when I was depressed. When we are having trouble finding the answers to complicated questions, we tend to over rely on the things we know for certain. At that time, I may not have known what I was doing with my life, but I did know that pizza was good. Like, really good. And, just my luck, one of the best pizza places in the city just so happened to be right on my way home.
I started to pick up a slice every week. Then it was every few days. Then, I noticed that it’s more of a bargain if you bought a whole pie, so I’d buy the large. Then the extra large. Before I could say “pass the anchovies,” I was stopping to pick up at least a couple full pizzas each week. Telling myself I could spread the slices out over a few days, more than likely I was downing the whole pie in one night. My love of pizza wasn’t the only reason I was overweight (the days off from the pizzeria were often spent at the McDonalds just five blocks away), but it certainly didn’t help.
Thankfully I was able to turn my life around and my waistline reaped the rewards. But while it took me years to finally see the light, the key ingredient to making a positive change was a fairly simple one: discipline.
I don’t believe in denying oneself all the things in life that one enjoys. Life is meant to be lived, after all. But a small bit of discipline goes a long way. I still eat pizza. Boy, oh boy, do I love pizza. But, knowing my lack of will power, I have instead placed preset limits on how and when I can have it. Specifically, I allow myself exactly one slice of pizza per week. Not two. Never a whole pie. Just one. Only one. It’s something of a reward for sticking to my clean diet for the entire week. To be sure, I almost never go a week without a slice, but I also never go over my one slice limit.
This may sound insane to you. I’ve had more than one cross-eyed conversation with my friends over the matter. But this restriction helped changed my life and is emblematic of using my superpower to overcome my Kryptonite.
By limiting myself to that one slice, I set a hard limit on the number of calories I can ingest on a given week from pizza. Less carbs. Less fat. Less weight. Because I have a preset hard limit, there really isn’t an option of having more than one slice. I never have to walk into the restaurant and think, “I wonder what I’m going to get.” I know exactly what I’m going to get (as do the waiters who start preparing my slice before I even need to order). And because I already know what I’m going to get, I am not tempted by additional options. Because I’m not tempted by additional options, it helps to quell my lack of willpower. It is a strict policy for sure, but it allows me to continue to enjoy something I love, without the inherent risk of excess.
Oh, and on a side note, when you know you only get one slice per week, every single bite of that slice tastes sooo good.
And now that I’ve likely made everyone reading this really want to go out and get a slice of pizza, you’re probably wondering what in the heck this has to do with photography.
Well, to make it short, Nikon is killing me right now. OK, not literally, but it sounds more dramatic put that way.
As a proud member of the Nikon family, I have been shooting primarily with Nikon bodies now for basically the entirety of my professional career. I won’t say exactly how long that career is, but, so you have an idea, I will point out that it wasn’t always completely digital. As a long time Nikon user, I also have accumulated a wide assortment of accessories to accompany my periodic camera upgrades from lenses to flashes to everything in between.
I’ve had no complaints. Except one. It seems as though every time Nikon releases a new camera, there is a simply monumental wait before most photographers can actually get their hands on one. At the time of this writing, I am lost in the mire of the endless backorder that is the D850, but this isn’t the first time I’ve had to wait to get my hands on a new release.
To be fair, as someone who graduated with a business degree, I understand there can be a marketing benefit to scarcity. In fact, many businesses use scarcity as a strategy. For those who don’t already know, the idea of scarcity is based on supply and demand. In this case, when demand is high, and supply is low, the result will be a product of higher value. In basic terms, you can charge more for a product that everyone wants but is in limited supply. People are willing to pay more to feel part of an exclusive club.
Even if you’re not using the strategy to increase prices (which I don’t think is Nikon’s goal here), you can also use the strategy to improve promotion. If word gets out that everyone wants something but only certain people actually have it, that thing starts to be perceived as more valuable. Because it is perceived as more valuable, more consumers want to buy it.
To put it in less economic terms and in more photographic terms, if you create a photographic masterpiece and only make one print, that print will be incredibly valuable and you’ll be able to charge a mint to someone who wishes to buy it. If, on the other hand, you flood the market with thousands of prints of the same image, each print is no longer perceived as unique, and thus the price you’ll be able to demand will be less.
Of course there’s a third and far more practical reason for market scarcity: limitations in a company’s supply chain make it impossible to meet demand. They simply can’t make the cameras fast enough to keep up with the market demand. This, I suspect, is the real reason why it is always so difficult for me to get my hands on a new upgrade and why I’ve been waiting so long for my D850. Presumably, it’s a darn good camera and worth the wait.
But while this is decidedly understandable, it does, in actual practice, provide an opening for my old nemesis. It puts incredible strains on my willpower. You see, I like Nikon. No, I love Nikon. I don’t want to switch camera brands. I’m happy where I am. So happy, in fact, that even the idea of switching brands wouldn’t even occur to me under most circumstances. Because it wouldn’t occur to me, even though the speed of technology has introduced a flood of amazing cameras to the market since my last upgrade, I hadn’t really been paying any attention. Why would I? Like my slice of pizza, I already know what I’m going to buy the next time I open my wallet, so knowing all the other options available only makes it more difficult for me to fight the urge to buy everything in the store.
But therein lies the downside of scarcity. As much as I love Nikon and have no desire to leave, I do have a business to run. And while I try to keep my equipment budget limited, I do need upgrade my technology from time to time to meet increasing demands in the marketplace. In my particular case, it is the need to greatly upgrade the video capabilities available on my D800. The longer I have to wait to implement the new technology in my business, the more stress that lack of technology will have on growth. And, in a business where you either grow or you die, it is somewhat impossible not to start to look around to fully access your options.
In just these couple months that I’ve been waiting for my order to be fulfilled, I’ve discovered a vast sea of competing products that can address my business concerns and are available now. Many of these cameras I had never even heard about and probably would never have heard about were I not made to wait so long to get the new Nikon in a more timely fashion. And while I haven’t jumped ship yet, and I still really feel as though the D850 I ordered is the best fit for my needs, the longer one has to wait, the stronger the urge to look around.