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How to get rid of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) in 6 steps


Gear Acquisition Syndrome can put a serious strain on your wallet.

Are you suffering from Gear Acquisition Syndrome, or GAS for short? Do you spend more time lusting over the latest, shiny body/lens/hot shoe flash/tripod than actually shooting?

Got equipment gathering dust in your studio? Stuff you had to buy because you ‘just couldn’t get that shot without it’?

You’re not alone. Gear Acquisition Syndrome plagues many a seasoned pro photographer as well as those looking to become one. It’s an addictive cycle that goes something like this:

Convinced you’re stuck in a creative rut because you don’t have the ‘right’ equipment, you splurge. But the high you get when you open the box of brand new gear soon wears off when you realise the product doesn’t magically improve your work.

Withdrawal sets in. And before you know it, you’re back on the internet, looking for a bigger, better fix.

Sound familiar?

Photography’s an expensive enough industry to be in. But GAS can cripple your business as well as your creativity. There may be occasions when you really do need to splash out on new equipment but, most of the time, you can use what you’ve already got.

Here's some advice to help you kick the habit.

6 steps to beating Gear Acquisition Syndrome

Step 1: Go cold turkey

Yup. Abstinence is the only way. If you want to avoid all internet binge-buying, that means NO reading of gear reviews in any form.

Throw out magazines. Cancel subscriptions. Remove your bookmarks and yourself from gear forums. If you still can’t control yourself, download an add-on that stops you visiting those sites.

Visit photography sites instead. Looking at kit reviews makes you want to spend money. Looking at photographs inspires you to take them.

Step 2: Get out with your gear

Feel those fingers flexing over the keyboard?  Pick up your camera instead. Get out and get shooting.

Remember your passion when photography was your hobby, not your job? Reignite it. Shake up the way you shoot. Swap digital for film, portraits for landscapes, or still life for street-life.

When you’re not spending £££s on equipment, you’ll have cash for other things-photographic. Get a new perspective. Travel, take a road trip, work with a new model.

Step 3: Know your own equipment

Gear Acquisition Syndrome can cloud your judgement. How do you know that gear you’re lusting after is really the answer if you don’t actually know how to use what you’ve already got?

Limit yourself to using one camera and one lens and you’ll get to know that kit intimately. But you’ll also push yourself. Because if you don’t have options, you have to adapt and that makes you more creative.

Step 4: Sell, sell, sell

Part of the addiction is the satisfaction you get seeing your gear hoard grow. It gives you a sense of worth. Bet you have stuff hanging around that you haven’t used for years Or you've used once and then discarded.

Sell it. Be ruthless. Keep only what you really use. It’ll force you to be more creative with what you decide to keep. And that’s a good thing. See Step 3 above.

Step 5: Hire before you buy

If you’re really sure you can’t do without a certain product, rent or borrow it first. That way you get to put it through its paces without denting your wallet.

It might not be as great as you thought. But if it is, you can still save yourself some cash buying second-hand.

Try Wex and the London Camera Exchange. Their pre-loved gear comes properly tested, so you know it works. It often comes with a warranty, too.

Step 6: Put your photography before your gear

There are always going to be pro photographers who use their expensive gear as credentials. But having costly kit doesn’t make you superior.

It’s not the tools that make the art. Remember Ansel Adams’ advice: ‘The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.’ That’s you.

Avoid hanging out with gearheads. Instead, hang out with photographers who talk photography.

Take your foot off the GAS pedal and put your photography before your gear.

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