Or: Should I Buy More Equipment?
Owning a paintbrush doesn’t make you Picasso—that’s pretty common knowledge. That said, you aren’t going to be a painter without one. Thus, the inevitable question: does better (read: new, nicer, etc.) gear make you more creative?
In short, no. But in reality, the truth is a bit more complicated.
I downsized my kit about a year ago. I sold some lenses and a camera body and decided to see what would happen. It worked out pretty well.
For client shoots I rented anything I needed that I didn’t own. This was actually a good way to go since many times what I needed for one client I didn’t need for another. It was a good way to save on upfront costs, as well as reduce the cost passed on to clients. For example, if there’s a lens I need for a specific shoot, instead of spending $2500 and making it up incrementally through multiple jobs, I’d simply rent it for a fraction of the cost and that’s all that would need to be billed to the client. A client for which that wasn’t necessary wouldn’t bear any of the cost.
For personal shoots I limited myself to what was in my bag, i.e., what I owned. This is where I started feeling the limitation. I didn’t have a lens longer than 85mm in my bag. For general work and portraiture it was fine, but I also enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, exploring, climbing, etc. I started noticing shots that I would have taken had I had a longer lens. Counting missed shots started getting to me.
This combined with fact that there was a particular focal length I was finding myself renting regularly led me to making a purchase.
In the last couple of days of having the lens I have found myself being more creative. Not because I wasn’t shooting, experimenting or being creative before, but because I had the opportunity to start getting some of the shots I hadn’t been able to.
So no, it’s not necessarily the new gear that made me more creative; it was a matter of finding my limits, doing as much as I could within them, and making a conscious choice to increase them that ended up making me more creative.
Good gear, especially for photographers, is expensive. Before spending more money, evaluate your actual needs:
Are you able to do what you need/want with the gear you have?
Have you rented the same piece of equipment over and over?
Are you actually being limited, and is it time to consciously remove this limit?
If you answered “no” to 1 and “yes” to 2 and 3, it’s probably time to make the investment and open up your creative horizon.