Focus on Your Craft and Not the Gear

This represents a small amount of gear I personally own. There are a few tripods, monopods, strobes, and necessary accesories.
Photography is fast becoming an increasingly popular craft, with many of us believing that gear directly impacts our quality of work. As artists, and often, those who appreciate cool gadgets, photographers seem to always want the nicest tools, the fanciest accessories, and the newest cameras. We often struggle with staying focused on our skills and not the fancy equipment on our wish list.

I’m constantly lured by new gear. I’m sure you feel the same way when you’re searching on camera store websites. When I’m searching for gear I would like to potentially buy, I’ve found that retailers just give false hope, suggesting that the tools will somehow improve my skill.
This represents a small amount of gear I personally own. There are a few tripods, monopods, strobes, and necessary accesories.
This is just a small amount of gear I personally own. There are a few tripods, monopods, strobes, and necessary accesories not pictured.

Based on my own experience, it won’t – especially if owning the newest and sexiest gear is the only reason you want to pick up a camera. 

Here are a few more ways to avoid buying additional junk gear you won’t use:

  • Rent, not buy. If you know that you would only use the gear once, maybe you should consider renting instead of buying. Are you on a budget? Do you need it for a specific shoot, and most likely nothing else? Yeah… save your money. Try LensRentals.comLens Pro to GoBorrowLenses.com, or local rental shops. I typically rent gear if the job requires a special piece of equipment that I don’t own or would rather not buy.
  • Figure out what you already have. Studying your current camera and learning the full functions of what it already does can save you a lot of time, money, and space in your camera bag. The first thing I do before shooting with a new camera, is read the manual cover-to-cover. It’s an odd habit, but it’s helped me to understand what I currently have, so I don’t make unnecessary additional purchases. So, take a moment and look for (or Google) your camera manual and check out all of the cool stuff it already does.
  • If you find yourself wanting it because the cool kids have it, then it’s probably not for you. Lens caps with your lens focal length printed on it? (Yes, it’s a thing – and totally unnecessary.) Aspiring, mid-level, and professional photographers couldn’t care less about those types of things. “Cool gear” will eventually sit in the back of the closet for years. Use your extra money to purchase a few more memory cards and extra batteries – the stuff that matters. There’s a difference between having too much of what you’ll use, and having too many accessories lying around. Choose your gear responsibly.
  • RESEARCH. RESEARCH. And then RESEARCH some more. If your research leaves you scratching your head, consult someone you know who owns what you think you’d like to have. I’ve asked for suggestions from photographers via Twitter and Facebook, as well as some of my cool photog friends. Not to mention, I’ve watched countless YouTube videos on pieces of equipment. If it takes more than one person to operate it on a one-man band set, I probably don’t need it. 

When I stopped researching gear, my creativity and technique improved. I started reading more, observing my environment, and what images I could create without hiding behind gear. I’ve used, sold, practiced with, and cursed quite a few things in my photography gear collection. But I found myself using the same tools I started with when I first picked up a camera. On a daily basis, I need a camera, lens, and neutral density filter. And don’t forget your skill and creativity.

Of course, there are moments when all I want to do is try every piece of flashy photo stuff that every well-known photographer mentions. I tell myself those new lenses, speedlights, and lighting modifiers will be there. I should concern myself with one thing: Just keep shooting and become the best photographer I can be – without all the stuff.

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