I first learned about the name of this ailment through Atlanta photographer, Zach Arias. I’m not sure if he coined the term, but he definitely brought light to it in reference to photography. Truth be told, I’ve been suffering from this syndrome for a long time. I just didn’t have a name for it.
I Have G.A.S.
You have what? Yeah you heard that right. I have G.A.S. or what better known as Gear Acquisition Syndrome. It’s the theory or better said “misconception” that the better and more Gear you have the better you will be at your hobby or craft. This couldn’t be further from the truth, yet our minds trick us and tell us that better gear equals better end products.
Don’t Fall Into This Trap
Once you have G.A.S. it’s hard to get rid of, so the best way to avoid it is not to have it to begin with. Gear doesn’t improve your skill. What it can do is enhance existing skills – making you faster and more efficient. For example – if you were a novice photographer with a beginner camera, you’re still going to be a novice photographer with a high end camera. It’s the blood, sweat, and tears you put into your craft that’s going to make you better. I once read a quote from Stephen King that really resonated with me and I think it holds true with people with G.A.S. – “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” So you may think you have talent in whatever craft you are getting into, but without putting any effort and work into it, buying a whole bunch of crap won’t make you better.
Sometimes Having Good Enough Gear is Good Enough
So there’s an inherent danger in going the completely opposite direction of having G.A.S. and this too is another pitfall. This is what I would call “Cobble Together Syndrome” or C.T.S. With C.T.S. you get sucked into the DIY world and start “Jerry-rigging” everything. If done incorrectly, this could cost you time, and ultimately money (as you start to buy things over and over again as the cheap things you bought keep breaking).
I’ve been on this side of the spectrum as well, when it came to photography accessories. One of the pieces of gear that I should have spent money on was a Flash Trigger. Instead I ended up buying a cheap one on amazon – twice, before I realized how dumb I was. I finally broke down and bought the brand name one and haven’t had any issues since then.
So I Have G.A.S. Now What?
The first step is definitely admitting the problem. Then what I find most helpful, is going minimal. In photography, I have an assortment of lenses and accessories. By shedding these additions and sticking to a single body and a 50mm lens I challenge myself and see how much I can do with such minimal gear. Exercises like this help you improve your craft and help you appreciate what you already have. For me it kind of quells the desire to get more stuff – that ultimately just sits on the shelf. Sure I wouldn’t mind having some amazing L-Series lenses (the cream of the crop from Canon), but I’m happy with what I have. I always also ask the question “Am I using all the gear I have to it’s full potential?” before upgrading.
Do you experience G.A.S. in your life? How do you cope with it?