Hello, My Name is Jesse and I have a problem…

Hello, my name is Jesse, I suffer from GAS but itís been over 6 months since my last purchase. Itís been a hard road, but Iím fighting, one day at a time. I know Iíll never be free of GAS, but Iím finally controlling it, instead of letting it control me.

For those of you new to the group, GAS or Gear Acquisition Syndrome, is an epidemic sweeping the photographic community, youíre not alone in this. Although it started in a very small subset of the population, mostly professionals and collectors, it has spread into the general populace at a staggering rate. Besides the fact that cameras are awesome, as electronics have become the de facto status symbols of our generation the urge to have bigger, better, more than our friends and neighbours is increasing. This creates a fertile breeding ground for GAS. GAS is highly infectious, highly contagious, expensive to treat and will lead to many hours of internet browsing. Although not sexually transmitted, it can be repellent to non-sufferers.

GAS can be most easily treated if caught early, left untreated it becomes entrenched and nearly impossible to overcome. †Some of you may not have developed full blown GAS but could have some of the early onset symptoms:

-Do you spend more time on camera forums than behind a camera?
-Does your fridge contain more film than food?
-Do you have gear youíve bought but havenít used?
-Have you used rent money for camera gear?
-Does your post office no longer ask you for ID when you pick up a package?
-Is your house infested with Styrofoam peanuts?
-Do you have a different 50mm lens for each day of the week?
-Has your local camera store hung a picture of you behind the cash?
-Do you spend more time talking about you gear than your images?

After developing full blown GAS, itís almost impossible to cure but it can be managed. First thing to do in order to curb bad GAS habits is to ask yourself one simple question before any purchase: ďAm I buying X because I want it, or because it will help me create images I couldnít before?Ē Itís very easy to start treating your gear as a Pokemon collection, remember you donít ďgotta catchem allĒ. And if you really have to buy something new, take a look at your current gear and see if thereís anything youíre not using anymore. Once a year I compare the EXIF data of my Flickr images with my gear. Any gear that wasnít used to create an image worthy of posting to Flickr that year goes on the chopping block. There might be special circumstances why something didnít get used, but in general, if you didnít use it all year you probably donít need it. While some gear holds its value fairly well or even gains value, lenses usually fall into this category, most gear devalues over time. Digital bodies are especially prone to this. Even if you think youíll need something in the future it might make more economic sense to sell it now, you can always buy it back later, possibly at a lower price than you sold for or rent the item the few times itís needed. Selling gear is a great way to raise funds and makes for a more guilt free GAS purchase.

Itís very easy to let cameras transition from tools into status symbols, one of the leading causes of GAS. It can be hard to be honest with oneís self, but if you find youíre more excited about showing off your new purchase to your friends than going out and shooting with it, it may have been a status purchase. Let your images be your status symbols, itís much easier on the wallet and a great motivator to actually go out and shoot.

Impressing people with gear is a hollow pursuit and hard to maintain; in order to continue impressing people you have to continually sink more and more money into status purchases. Spending a lot of money on a new lens isnít an accomplishment, but creating a truly unique and interesting image is something to be proud of. You canít buy your way to creativity and skill, part of it is innate, but it needs to be cultivated, practiced and exercised. And impressing people with your images is self-sustaining; it will make you want to go shoot even more, giving you more images to impress with. In the end a camera is only as good as the person behind it and a lens left on a shelf takes no pictures.

So next time you feel a GAS attack coming on, grab something off your shelf you havenít used in a while and get out there and shoot. Youíll either rediscover the joy of some forgotten gear, or realize you already have gear you donít need.

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  • Lynda Thrasher

    Ha ha ha, I’m with you on this one Jesse…although my “gear” is more than just for one hobby…le sigh.

  • http://twitter.com/DaniGirl Dani Donders

    Love it! My jones is not so much for new gear (not that I don’t crave it, but I’m pretty good at controlling the impulse.) It’s the vintage stuff that gets me – the old Duaflexes, the dusty Polaroids, even the 1970s vintage instamatics. They’re nothing more than paperweights most of the time, but I love them so…

  • Anonymous

    Tell me about it… I’ve got a weakness for vintage cameras. I’ve got at least 3-4 on my shelf I haven’t even run a roll through yet

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  • m w

    Hi jesse i drop by your blog this afternoon as i used you article to develope my first rodinal film, this went well so thanks for info there. I have a serious gas problem i keep buying camera and gear off ebay and of sorts. usually the camera need a little attenstion first that i love to do. i buy out of date film too so i have alot of that no in the fridge but in a very cold back bedroom with all my camera gear. I also find my self reading loads of photo blogs im seriously addictd and have to remind myself to go out and take pictures.

  • http://jbhildebrand.com Jesse Hildebrand

    Glad the rodinal info helped! I have a problem with out of date film and vintage cameras as well… I’ve had to impose a personal rule as I’ve got so much film in the fridge… I don’t buy any film for more than a dollar a roll and I rarely buy film that’s still in production. I’ve got a short list of out of production films I still keep an eye out for, but I have to remember it’s meant to be used and not hoarded.

  • http://www.facebook.com/iainhc Iain Cummings

    ūüôĀ My son counted my camera’s and to his and my amazement, at that date, i had 30!!!! :-/ Most of them work and have had film through them. The ones that don’t work… eventually will!!! I’ve had a small (big) spell on ebay recently and acquired a couple or so more camera’s!! O Jesse…I need help !! Serious help!!
    Regards Iain ūüėČ

    P.S. Man………………………………………………..I love photography!!! ūüôā

  • http://jbhildebrand.com Jesse Hildebrand

    Hahah, I was up around thirty or more last year, I recently had to move and didn’t have as much room for a huge camera collection anymore… It hurt, but I looked through my flickr and any camera that hadn’t produced a photo worth uploading in the last two years went on the chopping block.