A Question to Ask Before You Buy New Gear

One of the byproducts of the digital revolution has been a malady called “Gear Acquisition Syndrome,” aka G.A.S. Simply put, GAS is that obsession to upgrade to the latest and greatest because if you could just get that new camera, or that expensive new prime lens, your videos would be that much better. But is that really the case? Of course not.

If only we could have it all, our photographs would be so much better. Will they? Will our photographs be that much better if only that $3,000 lens was used on our last shoot? Will the same subject that you photographed this summer with a 2-year-old camera body be that much better if you shot it again with that new mirrorless camera body? Most likely not. – Douglas Turney

Image Credit – RedBubble

In the article “Stop Buying Equipment to Improve Your Photography, There’s a Better Way,” over at FStoppers, professional photographer Douglas Turney, poses the question that perhaps your money is better spent in another way, than just getting a new camera or lens.

Turney’s argument is that while camera and lens manufacturers can create gear that can squeeze out a little more sharpness, and perhaps some richer colors, they can’t make your subject more  interesting. “How’s that old saying go? If you want a more interesting photo, put a more interesting subject in front of the camera,” Turney writes. “I’ve never heard anyone say if you want a more interesting photograph, use a different camera… Yet we keep on buying that new piece of equipment hoping for different results.”

Now, to be fair, he’s talking about still images. But I think we can postulate over to the moving image, that if we don’t have an interesting story, a compelling script, good acting, or in the case shooting a wedding or corporate video, solid video camera work and video editing, that it won’t matter if you’re using a RED or a Nikon Z7, or even a smartphone, you’re going to lose your audience.

Another thing that Turney suggests is that rather than spending your hard earned budget on expensive new gear, invest that money on a better location, a professional makeup artist or professional drone pilot, or a more interesting subject. And if there’s a piece of gear you simply have to use, like a gimbal or prime lens, you can always rent.

Here is where both worlds, the still and video, can be more aligned. Now if you’re a wedding shooter, you can’t really choose a better location or better talent. So you have to think about what you can do to make that image more compelling. And that’s where the editing comes in.

For that $200 I got a full day of shooting west coast surfing that I was able to use on my website, social media and as stock images… It provided my surf portfolio a different feel from my usual east coast surf images.

Turney also recommends piggy backing on projects that are paying your way to shoot on location with more personal projects. Since most of your expenses are already covered, why not spend a few extra days after the project, at your own expense, to shoot something for your portfolio or reel? You may have to pay for an extra night’s hotel stay, and some food, but that will yield dividends when prospective clients are looking at fresh material on your website.

And if you’re not traveling for work, just go on a weekend road trip to a new location. The results will speak for themselves. Good advice that helps you to avoid keeping up with the Joneses by buying new gear that you don’t necessarily need.

Then again, if someone gets you something for the holidays, what can you do?

About James DeRuvo 801 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

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