Monday, June 13, 2016

Channeling the Buying Impulse

We all want progress.  Often the progress I most fervently desire is forward movement in my career: more jobs, better jobs.  When I hit a lull, waiting for the next opportunity is hard.  I quickly exhaust my techniques for "goosing" new business into being, and I'm left with this need, this yearning for forward movement.  If I can't get better jobs, I want better tools, better capabilities, better photos.  Buying some new piece of equipment is a nice, easy solution.  It's fast. It doesn't over-commit my time.  It's definitive, cheap progress.

The problem isn't just the rapid decrease in my bank account.  Like cotton candy, the "buying solution" lasts about as long as a sugar high.  Within days I need another fix. Photography is first and foremost about problem solving: how to work with a given light, a given architecture, a given person.  I've already got a robust set of photography tools, so I'm much better off learning how to use them better to solve problems. 

Which is basically the answer to re-channeling my impulse to buy more gear.  Shooting is a lot more satisfying than buying.  The challenge is how to shoot without having the driving purpose of a job.  A job focuses the activity, raises the stakes, and provides a nice clean finish.  But if I know that my impulse to buy more gear is really about a desire for progress, for improvement, than it becomes just a little bit easier to tame that buying impulse.  I can make that conscious effort to put down the cotton candy and make some soup.

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