I love shiny new toys! I love the responsiveness of brand new buttons, the crispness of a new shutter’s sound, the glisten of quality glass; overall I love new camera gear and I was a prime example case of Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS.)
And then right before I moved to New Zealand, I sold almost everything I owned.The lens, all of the film cameras, bags, accessories… gone! The remaining gear was deemed necessary and everything else that I may need when I return home I dispersed among friends for a long-term loan. Minus the batteries and chargers, the photo below depicts my current gear. Great photography isn’t dependent on having the latest and newest products out on the market. Although having the right tools may help to make the job easier, but it’s not the end all be all. My international move propelled me to prioritize my gear, which resulted in the greatest gifts to a working artist.
What I’ve Gained from Ditching Everything
This is the first time in a long time since I’ve felt this mentally free and light. It’s difficult to describe how at ease I am now when creating images. Before I’d find myself getting caught up with needing everything piece of gear possible for every situation. If I wasn’t happy with my shot, it due to the lack of gear. Wrong! Great shots are taken with cameras, but made by artists. If you’re not happy with your shots, find an alternative way of seeing the world. Because I’ve stripped away all the excess, I am more confident in my creative direction and technical skill set. My creativity is not reliant on the novelty or quantity of equipment. It’s wholly based on my experiences and ability to reinterpret ideas.
Everything Has a Purpose
Since I discarded everything that wasn’t used often or to quote Marie Kondo “didn’t spark joy”, the remaining gear has a purpose. I used to be that girl who took her backpack full of lens and other knickknacks everywhere because I was wanted to be ready to capture “the shot.” No matter where I went I was fully covered with at least a telezoom, a wide-angle, a bokehlicious prime, and a flash. However, it turns out that having more choices can give you more stress. I’d be physically stress out from lugging around all that extra weight and mentally stressed from worrying over potential stolen gear. I no longer face the battle of “Which lens should I bring?” or “Wait, I should bring X lens in case I want X type of shot?!” I simply bring my equipment because there is a real need to do so.
Yes, more gear initially equates to more fun, but then you have to worry about where to put everything. Gear is not limited to just cameras and lens either. When your creative ambitions meet your gear aspirations, all of a sudden you start to accumulate larger pieces of gear. Light stands become c-stands, c-stands become combo stands, combo stands start growing 12×12 frames, and so forth. When I was renting in Los Angeles my room transformed into a gear closet and my car served as a gear truck.
During this time I started to crave a better work-life balance, which meant that swimming in gear at home wasn’t a good thing. As a result I migrated my gear into a dedicated studio in downtown LA. In the physical process of moving forced to me evaluate and decide which pieces of gear were useful and worth braving LA traffic for. Soon I was able to walk around freely in my room and my car was able to carry passengers again.
Since I’m currently working and living on the road, I’ve taken this moving experience in LA to the next level. My entire life and gear must fit within a 70L backpack.
A Richer Life (literally)
As I am currently living abroad in Auckland, New Zealand and will be soon urban backpacking throughout Asia, a less is more attitude is ideal. The equipment that I can carry with me are enough to work on the go and their limitations only further encourage me to think outside of the box. When I return home to California my hopes are that I hold on to these minimalist values. The greatest gift I’ve received from downsizing my equipment is having the mental freedom and esteem to imagine and create. When there’s a situation in which specific tools are needed, I can always rent from a local gear rental house.
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