After I realized I was a huge gear addict, I started to take some steps to break away from it, here's what I did in 7 steps
Replacing the routine
Like I stated in the previous article, the key to reforming habits is to keep the triggers and the rewards, but change the routine. Alcoholic Anonymous folks have a buddy system, when the trigger is pulled, simply call your buddy or mentor asap, changing the routine from alcohol to people.
In my case, I knew my triggers, simply seeing new, cool looking camera. My rewards was the feelings of fullfilement: I own a camera, therefore I am a photographer. Owning that large format camera made me feel in the same lineage as Ansel Adams. Owning that 35mm camera made me feel like I was just like Bresson or Kertez or something. Fulfillment was the key, I wanted to be a fulfilled photographer. So in order to break free from the gear I simply had to do something that gave me that fulfillment that did not involve buying more and more.
I said in the first article that G.A.S is like idolatry. The cure to my G.A.S was simply to shift my focus from the idol to the source. My idol was gear, the source was Photography. The more I immersed myself in photography, the more I was oblivious to gear. I started viewing gear as good, but G.A.S as a hinderence to my photographic intentions.
If I wanted to be the best photographer I could be I needed to stop investing into gear and invest more into Photography. That's the simple secret. It gave birth to my motto: There is more to photography than gear. Gear is good, but it's like being in a secluded house when there is a whole earth to explore. Before I could not see beyond the camera, but now I see photography……a much more interesting subject than I would have imagined possible.
Every thousand mile journey starts with a first step. I saw the long term goal: To be a photographer, and just took the first step. Each step that I took took me closer and closer to my goals and further and further from gear. Here's the specifics of what I did to completely get rig of gear addiction:
1) Believe you can do it
If you don't believe in yourself, nobody will do so for you. Before doing anything I believed two things: I believed I would become better and I believed I would let go of the camera. It's mind over matter. If you think you will fail or if you think you will succeed, you are probably right.
2) Start appreciating your own gear
I made it a point that upon seeing my cameras, I make a conscious effort to appreciate them. I can safely say that I didn't appreciate most, if not all of my past purchases, so it had to change. When I look at My Ricoh GRD IV, I always say to myself how much it takes great pictures, how great it handles, how much I love having it.
It makes me attached to my cameras, making me focus on what I have instead of what I do not have. When someone says online how awesome some other camera is, I immediately shift my toughts to my current gear and how awesome what I already have is. If find it a necessity to actively be grateful for my gear because I don't even want to entertain the idea that another camera would serve me better….it's the classic G.A.S excuse.
3) Go out and shoot
A reader emailed me to say that he was researching a certain camera when he stumbled upon my website, he said I made him want to take what he already owned and go shoot. That pretty much sums it up. When I am tempted to dwell on another purchase, I just go out and shoot. If I can't, I just make a mental check to see when I can actually go out and shoot. Even if I don't follow through for any reason, it doesn't matter because the action step is simply to replace “get something else” with “Go out and shoot”. The more you take great shots with your camera the more you will appreciate it too.
4) Work on your photography
Sometimes it happens, you just can't go out to shoot. It's ok, there are other ways to work on your own photography. You can always go in your catalog and get a fresh Vision for your old stuff. Or you can simply do some readings on photography, how to get better, the past photographers, or maybe watch a documentary or work on your own blog.
G.A.S mainly works on impulse, letting it slide off your mind by immersing yourself in photography will allow you to sober up. Many of our Magazine readers tell me that they just want to go out and shoot and be better. To me that confirms my theory that investing in one's photography will remove the G.A.S. Amen!
Well, be accountable. To yourself, but hopefully with a partner. Tell your partner that you won't buy a new piece of gear and hopefully your sense of pride won't let you to do so, because if you do, you would fail in front of someone else. I didn't have a formal partner, but the unease to always give some explanations to my wife for every piece of gear was a sort of accountability.
6) Finding fulfillment
You find photographic fulfillment by working towards your photographic intent. My intent is to express myself through my photography, ergo, every step I take towards that intent made me feel fulfilled. If you want to be a pro, working each day by reading some professional books or techniques will make you feel fulfilled.
Simply stated, aligning yourself with your intent will make you feel fulfilled, do that enough times and you will end up like me, instead of wanting more gear, I want more photography.
7) Do something photographic
The final blow to G.A.S is to get married to photography. It's like to tell that nasty boyfriend or girlfriend that they had heir chance but you're moving on by getting married. How do you get married you say? You simply create something tangible photographically. What do I mean by this? Well you can print your images, create a blog, do a project, share at a photo club, etc. Creating something tangible with your photograhy will make you have a vested interest into photography, “marrying it”.
I really recommend making a blog, it doesn't have to be amazing but a modest blog will do, a tumblr is perfect. Every image you put in there will strengthen your willpower against G.A.S. because you are investing in your own photography. Even if you don't get comments it's ok because you are working on your own photography for your own pleasure. Speaking of comments….I just had a thought….what if a part of why people have G.A.S was simply because it's what gets attention online? You post about your camera you get comments, you post about your photography, you probably don't……something to think about further….
Here's how I invested in photography: I sought to make a portfolio, forcing me to actually make the images. I feel like a million bucks being the one who shot my images, a much superior and ever lasting feeling than actually buying a piece of gear for a short euphoria.
The big gleaning from my past addiction, I think, is that photography and gear operate on the basis of the inverse square law. The more you invest in gear the less interest in photography. The more you invest in photography the less interest in gear. That's what my experience and my research (Lurking around forums and all) taught me, if your experience differs, I'm all ears.
The whole point of the article series is not to make you stop being an addict, but only to channel that addiction towards photography. I was a gear addict, now I am a photography addict, a huge difference 🙂
Be yourself, Stay Focused and Keep on shooting.
Originally published Jul 11, 2013
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