What is GAS?
GAS stands for Gear Acquisition Syndrome and is especially relevant to photographers!
When I started out in photography in the 80’s (don’t laugh) we didn’t have the Internet. We had magazines to tell us about the latest cameras and equipment. This made it much more safe and easy to avoid GAS. If you didn’t buy a magazine then you were blissfully unaware of all those lovely new shiny cameras out there.
Of course, like now, if you struggled with getting good shots then you clearly needed some new gear right? Well, nowadays it’s far too easy to catch up on the latest photo products. In fact, it can be a struggle to avoid it. It’s like not wanting to hear the latest football scores when everyone is shouting them out!
OK, there’s still one potential barrier to getting stuck in GAS street and that’s, of course, your budget. In theory, if you can’t afford a new lens, camera or light then you won’t get one. Yeah, that doesn’t always work somehow. Credit cards and the promise of a commission are often all that is needed to push the buy button.
I’m no stranger to GAS, trust me! I’m getting better (i.e. NOT buying, that is) but there are a couple of other ways to help save your children’s inheritance.
A different take on GAS
I know that we’ve all tried this and probably failed but hear me out.
If we take a creative stance on GAS then it might just be our saviour. It’s very easy to blame the perceived lack of equipment for a lack of creativity but turn the table and actively restrict the equipment you use for a day or a project.
This actually works rather well in fact. Instead of using my fanciest camera and my choice of lenses and lighting equipment I’ll just use one camera, one lens and I may not even use any artificial lighting at all!
You might be surprised about the benefits (apart from the obvious GAS one we’re talking about) that a simplified gear selection can achieve. For starters, there’s the creative one: If you force all your creative energy on the subject then you will benefit the real reason you’re passionate about photography — creativity!
Another benefit is that you will really get to know your limited gear. Swapping between cameras, lenses and different lights is sometimes necessary in professional photography but it takes much longer to become fully accustomed to the gear you have. I’ve built up my gear over many years now. I don’t have so much of it now but, over the years, I’ve bought and sold photographic equipment as new needs warranted or when gear becomes (in my mind) obsolete. Now, I’ve never actually worn out my gear or broken it, so I can personally rule that out as an excuse! So, when you have just one camera, one lens and you use available light then you become very familiar with your gear. In fact, it becomes the figurative extension of your arm. You no longer have to think about which way to turn the lens to focus or where the buttons are on your camera. You simply know where things are and know the limitations and strengths of your gear. That’s a real plus. You can spend creative energy without the interruptions of working out where that thing was in the menu.
Yet another benefit of GAS avoidance is the time it takes to research (read drool) new equipment. Yes, I get how that’s part of the attraction, really! But it comes with a dent in the bank balance. It also distracts the creative flow. After you’ve spent time researching you spend more time finding the best price or visiting a camera shop to fondle the goods. If the equipment’s new out then you won’t actually get to own it immediately. And, of course, you couldn’t possibly do any photography in the meantime without that essential new camera / lens / widget! All of which takes its toll on your creative photography.
So, give it a go! Set yourself a simple project. It might be a still-life with some props you have lying around or you might take a trip into town with one camera and one lens and try your hand at street photography. It almost doesn’t matter, as long as it’s something you are interested in. Remember, the point of the exercise is to be at one with the gear you have and allow those creative juices to flow more readily, without the burden of deciding which of the ten lenses you’ll be taking!