I've learned over the past year or two that honesty plays a big part in being an entrepreneur, mind you I said entreprenuer, not photographer. In my opinion it's ultimately the deciding factor to rather you succeed or fail.
About a week ago I had a window open in Google Chrome that was connected to CreativeLive, I wasn't watching a video, nor did I use my laptop that day, but I had connected it to my monitor to upload some work and out of nowhere a video started to play. It was entitled "Foundation" and it was a 3 day segment (I think) by Zack Arias. At this time he was a Canon & Nikon shooter (booo), but I decided to listen anyway.
He went on to explain about business, and what it really was. His description was brief, but he defined it as the shutter, that's the business, taking the picture, and most importantly learning your camera inside and out.
It made me think how unfamiliar I was with my camera, partially because I've only had it for a few months, but then again that's no excuse, I've never known any camera inside and out, from my T3i, T4i, 60D, 6D, X100T, to my X-T1. I've owned them all and probably have yet to keep a system for more than 6 months. I was always sucked into marketing, and I was being SOLD on new cameras, and how they would make me better, but they wouldn't... True new gear may make things easier or more convenient, but it will never make me a better photographer.
Funny thing is, is that I always knew that, I knew it wouldn't make me better, yet I lied and told myself these were investments. Now in some cases, telling yourself that can be the truth, but usually it's just an excuse. I remember when I purchased my T3i I told myself that I need a Sigma 17-50, because the 18-55 from Canon wasn't good enough... Even though I never even used the 18-55 or the camera at that point, it was still being processed by Canon's refurbished team. After a few shots with the 17-50 I wasn't getting those pro results, so on I went. Welcome the 18-35 f/1.8 from Sigma, this lens was going to get me noticed, likes on Flickr, 500PX, worldwide notoriety... That didn't happen. So what did I do? I'm sure you can guess, and this process happened over and over again.
Zach stated that we get lost in the gear, which is obvious, but he explained it so well that I felt stupid to own what I own. He identified my problem is what I'm trying to say. I put my gear before photography, I let what I didn't have hold me back, and I wouldn't even experiment with my current glass, or body, because I just knew it wouldn't get the job done.
Truth be told it was me who couldn't get the job done. I wasn't as great as my gear was, so to compensate for that, I just bought new gear. When I bought new gear a slight bit of confidence was reinstilled, and I felt great again... But after a while, that burned out, I'd use that new gear and yielded the same results, and the back came the insecurities. It was a never ending process, it's the reason I've owned 5 bodies in 2 years, it's the reason I keep buying the latest and greatest camera. So I can tell myself I'm a photographer, because my camera validates that as oppose to my work.
So where did these lies first originate... First and foremost the internet. Forums, gear websites, general photography talk all played a part into why I was obsessed with new gear and convincing myself that I needed it. I found myself being obsessed with things that I didn't even care about, I let go of my T4i because I read pro cameras have the dial to the left of the system, and amertuer cameras had their dial to the right. Well I didn't want to be affiliated with amateur's so on to the 60D I went. When I got the 60D I also picked up the 24-105L from Canon, it was my street kit, it was perfect because it allowed me to zoom in and out and achieve different focal lengths all in one kit (I later hated zoom lenses), I absolutely enjoyed shooting with it, until someone told me that on a crop sensor 24-105 isn't the ideal lens for a street photographer, as it was more of a telephoto and couldn't capture a wide enough aspect. I could go on and on with examples.
Human interaction played a huge part as well. If I had a complete system and I noticed someone else with say a different lens and their image was dope, I'd go grab that lens, same with their camera bag and whatever other gear they had. Because I wanted to be validated, I wanted to meet their level of standards, I wanted to be accepted. I remember one particular time at a park someone let me shoot with their 5DmkII, and they told me that full frame was the way to go, and how great the viewfinder was (which it was), I told them about my Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 and how it was the first zoom lens to have a constant aperture that fast, and they look at me and said "cool"... And that was it. They didn't care, they weren't like super excited that I had that lens.
Later that night I sold off my equipment and bought a Canon 6D and a Rokinon 35mm so I can have the same setup as them. Sad sad...
At this point I knew I had a problem, like a real problem and it had to stop. Thats when I found Fuji, I loved the minimalistic approach they designed. All the lenses were high quality, the bodies were amazing looking, and it was such a small compact system that I couldn't resist. I told myself this is the setup I need to stop the GAS, that once I got this I would be okay... Except this was me lying to myself again, the Fuji X-T1 wasn't the answer to my problems, it was only the beginning of another lie. I later ended up with the Fuji X-T1, several XF lenses, SP-1 Share Printer, X100T, TCL-X100, Lensmate Thumbrest, new camera bags... Man it was insane. I've bought into an entire system. Now to let you all know I love all this gear, it has been the greatest system I've ever had, but I'll be honest when I say things went a little over board.
In that video with Zack Arias he explained that we need to buy our gear and use what we have, make it work, or at least attempt to. At one point all he had was a 35mm f/2 from Nikon and he shot everything with it. I wanted to take his advice to some degree, though I loved everything I had I was overwhelmed with options. Do I pick up the X100T, or the X-T1, if the X-T1 then what lens first, wait do I need a new lens? When you have to make those choices you need to understand you have to much going on. I purchased this camera for minimalism, not to overwhelm myself with options.
Zo what was Zacks advice? He simply said that he wanted us to not purchase anything else for 6 months, simply use what we have and see where it takes us. The only thing it can do is make us better. When you're limited you seem to be more creative, this is definitely true, I've witnessed it first hand with food, hell some of my favorite meals were created this way.
So I've decided to let go of some of my gear, and try this minimalistic approach, I figured it can't hurt me, and amy cause me to save some money in the mean time. I let go of my X100T, my TCL conversion lens and whatever else I don't need. My kit will consist of my body and 3 lenses, and that's it. I plan to check in every month on this date (7th) to let you know how it has been, if it's made me a better photographer and how much money I was able to save. Wish my luck!