I recently described Three Ugly Truths About Photo Gear (see here) and noted that I would soon offer some possible remedies. Well, here goes…
Remedy 1: Invest in You Instead
Will that new lens make you a better photographer? Will the upgraded camera body help you get shots you might otherwise not? I bet the answers to those questions are no and heck no. A comparable investment in you, however, will yield in measurable ways. Some possibilities? Take an online course at lynda.com or Kelby Training. There you can brush up on your composition skills or gain new insights into Adobe Lightroom.
Alternatively, join a local photo club and participate in lectures, contests and photowalks. If you’re itching to burn some serious coin, take a photo workshop and/or jaunt off to some wonderfully photogenic location. Get a good book on photography and actually read it. Better yet, grab one of the ones off your bookshelf you impulsively purchased and actually read it. The more you can feed your brain and sharpen your eye the better you’ll get.
Remedy 2: Stop Going into That Bar
I recall once hearing a speaker talk about the powerful connections that drive our behaviors. Smokers, when they decide the time has come to quit, have to break the associations that compel them to smoke. For example, if a person always takes a break at 10:15 in the morning to smoke, it’s helpful to take a break at 10:20 and read a book in a completely different location instead. If the smoker always associates puffing away with meeting friends in a certain bar, it’s important to simply stop going into that bar.
Equipment forums, rumor websites and numerous podcasts push and push and push the gear stuff. Well, all I have to say is: stop going into that bar.
In a nutshell: create new habits designed to reorient you toward image-making, creativity, inspiration and vision.
Remedy 3: The 12 Project Project
365 day projects are daunting. The prospect of shooting and posting one decent image every single day for an entire year feels like real work. I’d be worried that I’ll miss a day (no internet connection in Bora Bora, bad flu keeps me in bed, whatever) and then lose the spark to keep going. It’s like a diet: 30 good days followed by an entire bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and then I’m done for.
How about a full year of projects with each month bringing a new one? Your goal is to get through the year having accomplished 12 distinct projects which in total will move your forward as an artist. But here’s the kicker, you end the year with exactly the same gear as you began it with. Some possible monthly projects (don’t copy these; part of the deal is that you come up with your own):
- Portraits – 10 portraits you wouldn’t be afraid to post on-line; at least half have to be people you don’t presently know.
- One focal length – for one month, you keep your zoom at a fixed focal length or use one prime and shoot only with that.
- Black & white – ’nuff said?
- Abstracts – 10 images of everyday objects that, when composed and lit according to your creative vision, result in beautiful abstract art.
- Macro – little things done up big.
- One subject – all month, you tell the story of one thing or person; could be your poodle, your family, your hometown, the everyday walk from the train to work, you name it.
- Beauty in the ordinary – what are some things you would not typically associate with beauty? Now make them beautiful.
- Technique/filter – pick one and master it. Examples: stitched panoramas, HDR, time lapse, miniature/diorama effect, etc.
- Self-portraits – in one month, compose a series of images which together convey something about you that you believe others would be surprised to learn
- Mixed media – prepare a printed book filled with images and stories, poems, random thoughts, favorite quotes…
- Cellphone only – put whatever you’re shooting in the bag for an entire month; shoot only with your phone.
- Abandon your comfort zone – never shot sports? Go for it. Not a big wildlife photog? Do that. Hate landscapes? Only shoot landscapes. Afraid to walk up to strangers? Take portrait shots of complete strangers. This one is hard so work up to it.
Well how do you like that? There are twelve right there.
So, those are three possible remedies to gear obsession dystrophy. Calling all 2 Guys Photo readers… what are some other possible cures? Help me… I’m fading fast!