Photographers & GAS

The next time you hear a photographer say they have GAS, don’t be alarmed. It has nothing to do with what was for lunch. The photographer is referring to Gear Acquisition Syndrome, a common and highly contagious affliction for which there is sadly no known cure.

Early symptoms include eyes reddened from staring longingly at equipment catalogs and online gear review forums, accompanied by first-name acquaintanceships with salespeople at every photo store within fifty miles. Sufferers mumble cryptic words or phrases: “B & H,” “Adorama,” “Calumet.” They immerse themselves in numerological arcana: Where do truth and beauty lie, at 24 or 36 or 42 or even 50 megapixels? They experience existential crises over the emptiness of life when one is f/2.8 and not f/2.0, 14 mm and not 12 mm. How demeaning if one must stoop further to f/4.0 and 16mm! Anatomy becomes destiny: Should legs be three sections or four, have twist locks or levers? Size matters now, discussed openly even in polite company, whether ‘tis nobler to be 4/3, APS-C, Foveon, or just go all out for full-frame. Could even medium format be in reach? Should one be mirrored or go mirrorless? How easily the victim slips into revery, lost among ball heads, focusing rails, and carbon fiber - magnesium compounds, flash recycle speeds and battery recharge rates. And all the while, bags, straps, brushes, blowers, and diffusers accumulate as quietly as snowflakes falling. Yet worse may still lie ahead. The severest cases experience alluring fantasies, sirens beckoning from the shadows, or are they perhaps lurking demons: workshops, portfolio reviews, competitions, and the mystery of mysteries, scarcely to be breathed aloud, “a show of my own.”

However often the GAS-stricken repeat the traditional litany — “Just this last one, then no more! I swear it by Saint Ansel and the holy Hernandez Moonrise, by Saint Edward of the sacred Pepper #30!” — GAS is remorseless. It can be forced into remission by maxed out credit cards, depleted bank accounts, the wrath of spouse or significant other, or a lack of storage space. But alas, the threat of recurrence is ever-present and meetings will not help.

(8/20)


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