ryone! This is Jordan from Sleeklens.com and welcome to this episode of the Sleeklens Photography Podcast, which is going to be like the last one – a little bit different – and the reason why I say that is because I have an email that I just received (about 30-40 minutes ago) that inspired this particular podcast. So, this particular podcast it’s going to be about GAS or SAS, and I’m going to go exactly on what that means in just a second. First, let me read this email really quick:
I just purchased a Canon Rebel T5i, which is a used camera for me, and I’m brand new in photography. I’ve only taken a few photos with it but I also had the opportunity to purchase a newer camera from a friend who was selling their old gear.
It’s a used Canon 5D Mark III, and I had the opportunity to buy that with a bunch of lenses, but it will cost a lot of money I wasn’t planning on spending.
What are your thoughts on both of these cameras for a new beginner photographer? And would you go along with these purchases?
So Alan, this podcast is going to be directly devoted just to that question! Let me go first on what are my thoughts about these two pieces of gear.
Right now, I’m gonna say it doesn’t matter about any of that. The gear doesn’t matter at all. And this is where the GAS comes in, to which I was talking about earlier. So, what exactly is GAS? It stands for ‘Gear Acquisition Syndrome’ – and what GAS usually means, in photography terms – is the passion or the always wanting to get new gear. New gear all the time, gotta have the newest lens, gotta have the newest camera, the fastest memory card… all of that stuff. That’s what basically GAS is all about.
And so, there’s a lot of people that have GAS – I know it sounds so weird to say in a podcast! – there’s a lot of people that have Gear Acquisition Syndrome. When Canon, Nikon, Sony, whoever, releases a new piece of gear, they always want to get that new piece of gear.
Alan’s question got me thinking about: is the gear actually what makes a particular photo? And I’m going to spoil this for you and say no. The gear that you shoot with certainly does not make your photo. The source I want to back this up with is actually an article on the ‘100 Most Influential Photos of All Time’. I’m going to talk about the first 10: the first 10 photos on this list, I’m going to quickly talk about them, and give the dates about them.
The #1 photo is ‘The Terror Of War’, Nick Ut, 1972. It’s obviously a black and white photo, a film photo. It was taken in 1972, and it has to deal with the South Vietnamese Air Force dropping a load of Napalm on a village; and it’s a picture of the villagers getting out of there, walking down the road, and you can see the black smoke in the background, and it’s a very terrifying photo. But, that photo actually conveys a lot of emotion, it’s considered one of the greatest photos of all time.
Next is the ‘The Burning Monk’, Malcolm Browne, 1963. That one is a picture of a monk that’s burning himself alive as a form of a protest. That one was taken in 1963.
The third photo is ‘Starving Child And Vulture’, Kevin Carter, 1993. It’s a picture of a starving child and a vulture that’s looming behind him. Very powerful photo; I’m not saying that these are the best photos in the world as far as in the picture quality or anything like that, but these are the most impactful photos of all time.
We have the #4 the ‘Lunch Atop A Skyscraper’, 1932. That’s a group of men working on a very tall building and having lunch on a skyscraper beam.
We have the #5, ‘Tank Man’, Jeff Widener, 1989. Number 6 is ‘The Falling Man’, which was taken in 2001; number 7 is ‘Alan Kurdi’. Number 8 is ‘Earthrise’, and that was taken in 1968. Number 9 is the ‘Mushroom Cloud Over Nagasaki’ – and that was taken in 1945, obviously during the WWII; number 10 is ‘V-J Day In Times Square’, taken in 1945 as well.
So, those are the top 10 photos on this list that are considered the most influential photos of all time. Now, the reason I bring this up is because gear had no part in any of these photos. And the reason I say that is almost all the photos were taken with very old film cameras that we would probably never use today; and the photo is the concept, the subject, the timing, all that stuff is what makes that photo.
If you think about the most powerful photos, the best photos of all time, obviously everybody has their personal favorite, their favorite photographer, etc. But again: the gear doesn’t really matter. The timing, the skills needed to take these photos are all things that you already have in your mind – all of that matter, not what kind of camera you have or the camera you have the opportunity of buying.
SAS to me it’s like the opposite of GAS, and stands for ‘Skill Acquisition Syndrome’. So, if you have the opportunity of getting new gear or getting a new skill, I’d certainly go to getting a new skill.
The gear is gonna fail you at some point; the gear is going to be obsolete at some point, but the skills that you retain, the learning that you keep, is going to be the main thing that keeps you coming back and learning and developing your photos, not just buying a new camera that can take 20% better photos. Yes, some may have better low-light quality or similar features, and obviously that matters depending on what kind of photography you are doing, but at some point, the gear goes away. At some point the lens that you are using – even though it’s important – at some point it just goes away.
What I would rather learn is how to take a photo and edit it in a certain way, how to develop a scene, how to think about a scene more clearly and turn it into a different type of photo that you didn’t start out with – maybe like compositing or something like that. That’s why on Sleeklens we have a lot of courses in which we cover developing more and more because the skills are actually what’s more important, not the gear.
So, that’s all for today’s podcast. Alan, I wouldn’t go for new gear, I’d start slowly learning your skills as a photographer. Attending a course, learning more skills instead of getting new gear that – probably – you may never use to the full extent of the features it has.
I know that everybody has their opinion, that’s what I would recommend when it comes to starting out in photography.