writer: russell j.t. dyer; posted: aug 2009; revised: mar 2018; readers past month: 821
I confess that I like camera equipment. I like researching new equipment, deciding on what to buy, buying it and then using it. If I only wanted it just to have and didn’t use it, then I would be firmer about it being a problem. But I use my equipment and enjoy doing so. Is that bad?
After musing further on my previous entry about enjoyable aspects of photography, I think I have to expand on my comments about liking photography equipment. I said in that entry that as a boy I used to enjoy looking at the tools in hardware stores. I don’t know why I was fascinated by them, but I was — and I still am. Similarly, I’ve very intrigued by photography equipment. I have a strong and insatiable desire to possess nice equipment. For example, I’m becoming obsessed with the idea of owning a Leica M8 camera. Reading the reviews and comments by long-time Leica owners, and considering how Leica cameras are handmade and seeing the quality of their construction, I can understand why they cost so much. However, I cannot justify spending $4500 for a film camera — and that doesn’t include the lens&mdash. And yet, I want one.
What’s wrong with me that I have such a strong desire to have such an expensive camera? We’re in an economic recession, I will probably lose my job in the next month or two, I have a few thousand in debts that I need to pay, I don’t have a car and would very much like to buy one, and I predict that before all of these other concerns are addressed, I will own a Leica camera. I don’t know how I will get the money, but I sense that somehow I will have one in my possession in a short period of time. Photography friends of my like to joke that I have a bad case of g.a.s.: gear acquisition syndrome. They are very right.
As a kid I was told that knowing that I have a problem is half the battle. I’m not sure I agree. I know I have a problem, but I have no idea why I am this way and what I should do about it other than ignore it or allow it to thrive, whether to not buy any more equipment and just suffer in agony hoping one day I will forget I want a Leica. More importantly, I question if my problem is really a problem. Maybe that’s me losing ground on the battlefield by denying that it is a problem. I like camera equipment. I like researching it, deciding on what to buy, buying it and then using it. If I only wanted it just to have and didn’t use it, then I would be firmer about it being a problem. Sometimes I wish I could say that I am a professional photographer and these are the tools of my trade. But that’s not true. If I take someone’s picture, I don’t charge them. No magazines or newspapers pay me to photograph anything. I take photographs for my own enjoyment, not to make money.