Photography: When Gear Advice Gets Toxic

Here’s a sad reality. The days of people reading books and magazines to improve their photography are coming or may have already come to an end. You see less and less of the good stuff at books stores not because they get sold out but because there’s less production due to lessened demand. And it all boils down to one simple reason. People have found an easier, cheaper and quicker way to learn. The almighty internet. People have even gotten so lazy that they don’t even go to forums for tips anymore, they post and ask on facebook groups and anyone can give them an answer. Sadly, anyone can also give them a wrong and misleading answer.

The most common content of questions that I see online are those that involve getting new cameras or lenses. Gear related. And anyone with a camera and a lens feels entitled to answer the query. Most of these people belong to the should-be-endangered group of people who still believe that buying new gear will improve your photography and that improving your photography entails buying new gear. No. Just… No.

One perfect example is when I came across one of these posts that ask about landscape photography. (This, of course, hit a nerve.) The person began by saying that they recently just bought a new camera and are interested in trying out landscape photography and consequently asked what pieces of equipment they would need to do so. Surpisingly, (actually not) over 3 dozen people stormed the comment section with answers. It was good to see that people try and help out each other but when I saw the responses, I felt scared for the person who asked. Simply put, they bombarded the person with responses that included thousand dollar lenses, all types of landscape filters, high end cameras and so on. Yes, it all seems perfectly harmless but this actually reflects the reality that people are forgetting the most important things in photography.

All you need is any capable camera, a kit lens, and lots and lots of enthusiasm.

Back then, I would also probably be one of those who would say that at least, one should get an ultra-wide angle lens and a couple of filters. But now, come to think of it, you can learn and ‘try out’ landscape photography without any of those. It would just mean that you’d have to shoot at the right place at the right time, but yes, you can do it without those. Pair your camera kit with a sturdy tripod and play with all the possibilities of light and you’d come out happy with whatever you have. If not, then it might not be for you. If that’s the case then good thing you didn't buy all those lenses and filters. That’s when it gets toxic. When it leads to more expenses than learning.

Photography should never be about the camera, the lens or any other piece of gear. Photography should and will always be about the outcome and the adventure leading to every meaningful photograph. If anyone tells you that you need a certain upgrade to become a better photographer, hit them with a tripod.

Thanks for reading!

A single golf clap? Or a long standing ovation?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.