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Sure as the sun will shine tomorrow, there is some photographer sitting at home right now reading reviews and looking at photos online from that new lens or camera body they just must have. Forget one, there are thousands doing it. Maybe even you just took a break from shopping gear to read this article now.
We live in an age of immediate gratification, where the things we can tangibly see and possess with greater speed grab our attention. For amateur and professional photographers alike, that urge often manifests itself in the form of gear. A new lens, light, body, trigger, monitor, software – we often work ourselves up to a fevered pitch, convinced that we need these new items. While it’s true many times the right lens or light can really help advance a technical image you’re working to create, most of the time we just want the item because we want it.
American humorist and Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald once said, “the best things in life aren’t things.” I like to think the best things in life are where we can go, who we meet and what we can experience in the short time we are given. Indeed a recent New York Times article, “But Will It Make You Happy?” showed that many people are much happier when they buy less and instead do and experience more with their money.
The day you stop worrying about what you can buy, and instead turn your attention to where you can go and what you can experience will be one of the happier days of your life.
Now I’m not advocating for you to head to your local camera store, sell of all your gear and hop a flight shoeless to a foreign land, but rather to consider how you spend your money on gear. I like to have just enough gear to cover my frequent and basic photographic needs, and then renting equipment I will need for specific, infrequent jobs. Yes, a brand new D3s would be a wonderful thing to have, but the reality is in all but the rarest of jobs do I need such a top of the line piece of equipment.
Think of the places you could go and the experiences you could have if you spent your money on travel instead of every single piece of gear you think you need. You’ll have plenty of photos to cherish. The memories of our journeys stick with us throughout our lives. In fact, years down the road we’ll even remember a mediocre travel experience as a fond one. It’s funny how memory works that way, but thankfully we remember the positive things, ultimately influencing our view of the world.
Traveling doesn’t have to be incredibly expensive either if you know where to look. I almost exclusively find all my flights and hotels through Kayak.com. Their new Explore feature allows you to pick your home city and then view a map with flight prices over locations all across the globe. Keep your mind open and you could find a great fare to somewhere you might never have thought to go before. There are lots of travel sites and services out there, be sure to search around all of them or subscribe to special fare alerts.
So think before you obsess over that new piece of gear. Ask yourself if you really need it, or would a trip somewhere around the world be a far more rewarding use of your hard earned money.
As St. Augustine once said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Immerse yourself in the chapters of the globe.