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.