This is a chapter from the book A Lesser Photographer.
“Some people love the tools more than the outcomes.” — Mark Hurst
There will always be some amateur photographers who refuse to concede that spending on images, not cameras, will improve their photography.
They tend to fall into two camps:
“I use what’s appropriate for the kind of photography I shoot.”
How many times have you loved a photo because it was “appropriate”?
You say you only have a compact camera and you want to be a bird photographer? That sounds like an incredibly interesting creative problem worth solving. Or you could throw money at the problem and end up with bird photos that look like everyone else’s, if you’re lucky.
“Gear is part of the fun of photography. It makes me want to shoot more.”
Gear was a tremendously fun part of photography for me until I realized gear wasn’t about the image, it was about the gear.
Do not attach emotion to the tool. Save it for the images.
The image must come first, unless you want to be a collector or a maker of camera equipment—and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Honestly, when I used to say this kind of thing, I just wanted a particular lens or camera and was looking for an excuse.
A Buyer’s Guide
There may come a time when you actually have to buy a camera of some kind. So, here are few rules that may help you select the best one for you:
- Check to make sure you don’t already have a camera. They’re everywhere, and in everything, so you probably do.
- Discover your pain point. Everyone will have a different pain point—the point at which the brain has to take over from the equipment to produce a desired result. Find that pain point by borrowing and renting cameras.
- Buy a tank. If possible, buy the camera that best rejects the notion of planned obsolescence.