This will hopefully be the last “gear” oriented blog for a little while. This one’s a little bit different than the last two, though, so I think it’s useful to think about.
Heading into 2012, it’s time to take stock of where I am photographically, and make some plans for the new year. Part of that involves starting a new Lightroom catalog for 2012, making sure all my 2011 files are backed up, and thinking about any gear changes I might need to make in preparation for weddings coming up. I, probably like most photographers, tend to focus on the exciting, big ticket items–the new cameras, the new lenses, the upgrades that we want or need moving forward. So, you might thinking that the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 would be tops on my list of wants for 2012. And certainly, it’s way up there.
You might think my list involves a 5DmkII, or a 1Dx, or a 1DmkIV, or some exciting lens like a 24mm TS-E. And all of these things are on my list of wants, though most of them are on the very periphery of possibility. What my actual list looks like, and probably what other photographer’s lists look like (or should look like), is more like this:
- New 1Tb hard drives for 2012 photo storage and backup and external RAID array
- Lexar dual slot reader
- New LCD monitor
- Cold shoes
- Gator Clips
- White and gray seamless paper
- New shoes
- More RAM for my desktop
- Pecpads and other cleaning supplies
- ThinkTank Airport International (I already bought this one for a wedding in February)
- Saving towards 2013 Iceland trip
So, no cameras or lenses in the top 10. After those odds and ends, we get down to the X-Pro 1 and its lenses, and maybe a 5DmkII or similar, but consider all of the above–nothing up there is photo-taking equipment, but all of those things are important elements of my photography. They are all the things you don’t want to buy because they’re not sexy or fun or new, but they are the things you need. To fulfill your professional obligations and back up your valuable photos. To be able to accurately edit your photos. To be able to safely transport your gear. To be able to ingest and manage your photos. To take the gear you already have to exotic locations and take once-in-a-lifetime photos.
As you plan your purchases for the coming year, whether you are a pro, an enthusiast, or an amateur, take the time to prioritize them, and don’t forget to include the mundane things. And if your pockets aren’t bottomless, don’t forget about things, like trips, that can offer tremendous bang for your photographic buck. Because, as I repeat over and over and over on this blog, the experiences, the light, and your vision and creativity are far more important factors in good photographs than the gear. You might decide that your 5D can hang in there for another year with just a service, and put that grand you’d earmarked for the 5DmkII towards a trip to Yosemite, or Yellowstone, or Zion instead. Or you might spend that money renting someplace cool to shoot portraits. Or you might decide that, after all, it’s really time to upgrade your camera, because there’s nothing wrong with that. Just take the time to give it conscious thought.
What about me? I’m going to make my way through that list above, with maybe a few other odds and ends added to it (there’s always something). My one indulgence this year will likely be the X-Pro 1. If it works out as I hope it will, I might pick up a second and jettison some Canon gear. If it doesn’t, I might end up with a 5DmkII after all. Or maybe not. I have to get through all that other stuff first. Meanwhile, I’ll keep shooting with whatever I’ve got, and in the end, that’s all that really matters.