The Photography “Kit Obsessive”

Photographers fall into many camps, but one that really stands out is the “kit obsessive”.

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These tend to:-

  • Talk incessantly about kit – above anything else
  • Buy novelty items they rarely use
  • Are never happy with their current kit
  • Motivated by numbers and specifications
  • Can compare and quote reviews of competing kit items
  • More interested in the tools than the photographic results
  • Are first to hear “new kit speculation”  blogs and forums
  • Always think “if only I had a….” rather than “what can I do with my….”

I’m sure every photographer enjoys using great kit – handling pro kit is like a pianist playing a Steinway, it’s a buzz you get from using the best there is.

The love of music, as with photography, is the creative process – the performance. The tool, be it a beaten old school piano or the £75,000 Steinway grand, is just a vehicle for you to express yourself. A great pianist will sound great on either… and vice versa.

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The “kit obsessive” is, to me, missing out on the many beauties of photography – a few of which are:-

  • Finding a perfect, hidden location,
  • Telling a story in one image
  • Capturing the beautiful mountains,
  • Using light falling through a window,
  • Clouds creating amazing shapes,
  • Fleeting smiles from a beautiful model,
  • Waiting for a sunset, only for it to create the reddest sky you’ve ever seen
  • the moment a wild animal looks in your lens,
  • meeting  new and interesting people,
  • conveying awe inspiring power and beauty of a super car,
  • the reaction of the couple seeing their wedding photos for the first time
  • show the magnitude of a sky scraper…..

The list can go on and on and on…. But for me, not one of the true “motivations” is kit.

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Example – What do you think about on a commercial shoot?

Imagine a PR shoot with a business person.  Here’s what you tend to focus on….

On these shoots you’ve first and most importantly to talk to the person – shake hands, smile, say hello…. Then keep talking as you set up the lights… Find out things you can talk about later in the shoot… find out what the pics are for, how they’d like to look, see if they’ve any example images…

Then you’ve to suss out the location… where looks good, how to light it, look for windows/mirrors and dodgy reflections – all the time talking to the client of course…

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Then you’ve to shoot of course – probably using the same body/lens/flashes you’ve used dozens of times before…. That’s all on auto-pilot… leaving you to guide your client… get them talking about themselves, or something to guide their “mood”…

And that is the wonderful thing about photography – for that time, you have got someone in the palm of your hands, be it some aspiring model or (as I’ve had) a group of senior directors of a multi-billion pound company – no pressure there.

My point is about motivation and enjoyment. Just as a builder has the best power tools for his job, I have the equivalent in camera and lenses – fit for purpose. That’s not in question. It’s what drives you to take photographs that is.

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If you are a “kit obsessive”, I implore you to take a step back; start enjoying photography for what it is – recording the light coming into a box.

If your “enjoyment” of photography is the gadgetry, you’re missing the true enjoyment; “seeing” the world around you.

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