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.”
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