Meanings of G.A.S. in photography in 2017

Hello, photography lovers! We already are at the beginning of a new year, so new things should be said, new information should be gathered and new plans should already be in place, to start well in our photographic endeavors. Each new year is a perfect opportunity to change something in photography, to find new meanings and to improve ourselves as human beings, along with our style.

In my photography I primarily use Fujifilm cameras and lenses, I just find them as my best choice for my style, needs and difficult-to-define tastes. I also love to get out and photograph on film, but let’s just say that these days, digital cameras are really powerful and capable and they surely fit our needs in the dynamic life we are living now.

This new 2017 year, especially for Fujifilm and for its users and admirers, started not just really well, but quite extraordinary. For someone who used their photographic gear for quite a while (professionals or pure enthusiasts), this year begun with a lot of long-expected surprises that created a major worldwide wave of admiration, deep curiosity and questioning. I am talking about the official announcements and launching of a few new Fujifilm products. Let me be more specific.

  1. Fujifilm GFX System – a brand new weather resistant mirrorless camera with a 50 MP medium format sensor, along with 6 lenses, for the beginning.
  2. X-T20 – a new compact mirrorless camera with the latest Fujifilm technology, including 4k video.
  3. X-Pro2 – the beautiful rangefinder styled flagship camera now comes with a Graphite look, together with a Graphite XF 23mm F2.0
  4. XF 50mm F2.0 – a new compact weather resistant prime lens (that completes the perfect compact prime lens trio – 23, 35 and 50 with weather sealing capabilities, fast AF and F2.0).
  5. X100F – a gorgeous long waited new compact camera, that packs a lot of performance from its siblings, the X-Pro2 and X-T2.
  6. X-T2 in Graphite Silver edition.

Not to mention a new Fujifilm flashgun, the firmware updates that make those cameras even better, the teleconverters for the long zooms (XF 1.4X and XF 2X), the new MKII wide and tele converter lenses for the X100F and some other accessories.

In this Fujifilm new launched product jaw-dropping and excessive drooling context, let me try to talk to you about G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and its meanings – one of the hardest things I’ve tried in written, thinking about how to convince myself and you, that new gear has its prejudices on you.

Now you might have heard this before:

  1. A new camera does not make you a better photographer (but could increase the technical quality of your images).
  2. New gear with more megapixels can lead to new expenses in the computing area (larger hard-disks, more powerful PCs to cope with larger files).
  3. Getting the best camera on the market with you not being the best, can lead to serious disappointments. Even if we all know that the photography you make is made by your creative mind and soul and not by your camera (which is just a tool). But having the best and most expensive gear is really not the thing to do.

Fighting G.A.S. is a choice you deliberately have to make. When you have no budget at all for new gear it could be very simple, technically speaking, but not so simple in your mind. The temptation is always there.

“Ok, Sebi, but that new camera is out there and I need those lenses, too. What can I do? Is there something I can do to fight this?”

I would say: “Yes”.

Let me explain my 7 essential points in fighting G.A.S. and switching your attention from the new flashy gear to the things that matter now and on the long / very long-term. The order is not vital, you may choose the order of importance according to your preferences. But all of them are relevant and you will see, this is not just a cure for a “syndrome”, it is also a way to improve yourself and your results. Let’s see what I mean:

Less is more. I could just end this first point with this shortest sentence, so you could understand it in your own way. The less you have, the more creative you need to become. To overcome the technical limitations of your photographic gear, you might need to think more, try harder, find new approaches in your photography and that is always the best thing to do: innovate, be original, create, not imitate.

Focus on one thing only at a time. Multitasking is bad for performance, in general. This is a concept that comes from these western, modern times when the industry needs to keep growing indefinitely. We are told to do more, work harder, even do several tasks at once – they call it efficiency. I call it “perfection killer”, because the human being is not meant to be multitasking, not it the way they seek perfectionism. In order to create something that follows the perfectionism principle, you need to stay focused on one thing only, without a time frame. Work on in, polish it, until it reflects perfection. G.A.S. will truly distract you from focusing on perfection.

You have two Egos. One of them wants more gear thinking that more gear will lead you to success in doing various photographic jobs, the other one enjoys the challenges in surpassing the technical difficulties that come with less gear. The first one is leading you to a costly and superficial path, the other one is the one you should really cultivate. Know the difference!

Buy experiences, workshops, books, not gear. If we get down to the truth, you will see that all your photographic work that received the awards and the appreciation was because of the places you visited and recorded with your camera, the great composition you have applied and the skills and originality you had in post-processing. Not because of the lenses you have employed. Everything in photography (almost) will cost you money, but it will be more useful for you to draw your attention to photography workshops, courses, interesting books (always learning, right?) and new experiences – travel to new, wonderful places. Channel your budget to the paths that will only improve your style and add some great work to your portfolio. You will do just fine in Nepal or New Zealand with your old lenses, instead of a pro-grade zoom and staying at home. The more you travel, the more you will photograph and the more you photograph, the better you’ll become and the happier you’ll be.

Be happy with what you have. It is a mental exercise, like a new philosophy that requires your will and effort, I know. It simply isn’t safe and sane to dislike the things you work with, the tools you use in your creation process. You loved your gear when you got it, so why hate it now? Are you so superficial, turning so easily from love to hate, or you simply invest too much sentiment in some tools? A friend of yours will love the performance of your gear, when comparing it with his even older gear with less performance. He just dreams about the gear you posses, but you already feel uncomfortable with it and you are not better than him in photography. Isn’t it strange?

Stop comparing your gear with other photographer’s gear. This will only lead you to nowhere. You see and will continue to see great photographs, that were made with kit lenses, or cheaper cameras, than what you actually posses, images taken with some entry-level gear that really captivates the public appreciation. How is that possible? Because I already told you a great photograph is not made with the camera, but with your vision and skills. From my experience, a great Landscape photograph is made from: 65% the great location you have traveled to, together with the great light of the moment + 15% the composition you have thought about + 10% the great post-processing skills + 10% the gear you have used. How is that for a philosophy change?

Stop reading photography news websites. Or at least stop making it a daily habit. We all love to stay updated with the latest news, but try for a while to avoid the reviews of new and shiny photo gear. It will keep you away from temptations and it will clear your mind, ready to be focused on what you really need to do: originality, creation, innovation.

I know this is not an easy undertaking, to change your way of thinking, to master your impulsive desires for “new and more”, but everything has a start and every road begins with a first step. Just make “I want to become better, great!” your first priority and you will figure it out how, by taking the first steps and keeping your feet on going on this new road. May the Light be with us all!

All photos and text – © Sebastian Boatca 2017 / www.sebastianboatca.com

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10 Comments

  1. “Buy experiences, workshops, books, not gear”, empty my bank account with travels until I figure out that I can “Be happy with what you have” is my plan for 2017 😀

    I’m having some severe GAS attacks in 2017, and I’ve resisted until now. From the Fuji side, and from other brands too. I think I’ll spent my GAS money on plane tickets rather than hardware, it’s always a better strategy.

    1. Pierre, thank you for your comment. You know it is all relative and there is no typical scheme that applies in the same way for each of us.

  2. Thank you for the great article. It really helps to get my feet back to the ground by reading an article about GAS from time to time…
    It’s so easy to think we are going to get better pictures with new equipment…
    Think I’m going for that trip in 2017…?

    1. Thanks, Nadia! It really helps too, to write it, like a public statement of a decision to control the “needs” for newest photo gear. The traveling aspect – this is always the best thing to do.

  3. Whenever I meet someone bragging about all the gear they have I simply ask: “Let me see your photos” They often fall silent as their photos aren’t that great – boring flowers, landscapes, street photography that is just random shots of people on the streets, cliches and so on.

    1. So true. I think some of us get more relaxed with the latest and best photographic gear and when you are relaxed, you may loose some of the tension, motivation and focus to do your best; it feels like your pro-grade camera and lenses do the best for you, anyway.

    1. Well, not quit reading for good. Reading them could be useful, from time to time. But the best thing to do is not letting those websites and their commercials influence you in a negative way, making you unhappy with your photo bag and its contents.

  4. Less is more, because it helps you to focus on and really learn how to use the equipment that you do have. If you keep upgrading or changing your camera, you will never really get to know all of its possibilities or to learn how to properly use it.

    1. Thanks, Richard. There is much to learn about what can be done with your existing photo equipment. How many really reach the technical limits of their gear and could honestly say those limitations stand in the way of their artistic performance?

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