Regular readers will know that these days I have only about a dozen cameras, and often use just one per month.
Some contrast to my peak (or nadir, depending on your view) a few years back when I had close to 60 cameras, and maybe 25 lenses too, hadn’t used even half of them, and spent forever debating which to take on my next photowalk.
Of course this collection didn’t just fall into my lap one morning, a job lot from an auction or inheritance.
It was accumulated over months, usually one or two cameras at a time.
Clearly there was a reason that this act of buying a new (to me) camera was one I repeated hundreds of times over a six or seven year period.
We could call this the triple P – The Pleasure and the Promise of the Purchase.
Each of these Ps have a power in their own right, and combined they’re almost irresistible.
Let’s break it down further.
This one is simple. I really enjoy using different cameras. Figuring out how they work, where the main functions are, what the optimum set up might be, their sounds, how they feel in my hands, and so on.
Of course the danger was always having so many cameras that whichever one you pick up, you then spend too long trying to figure it out all over again, because it’s so long since you lasted used it.
The first time you do this it’s exciting and a new venture.
Doing with a camera you already should know but have forgotten, isn’t anything like as much fun. In fact it becomes a chore, and a barrier to a fluid photography experience.
But we tend to forget all of this when our eyes are poring over the images and our fingers hovering over the bid button on eBay…
Every time a new camera arrives, it’s the start of a new adventure, the first date in a brand new relationship with all the promise a young innocent feels using a dating service for the first time. Will he or she be “the one”?
In essence, this next camera could be the best camera you’ve ever used. By best, I mean best suited to your particular photography needs and ways.
But as time passed, the likelihood is you’ve already used one very similar and probably better already, but sold or donated it months ago because you thought there might be something just slightly better out there.
Your outlook quickly sours and becomes more akin to the dating service veteran, who’s been on a multi-year quest to find Mr or Mrs Perfect, and found hundreds of Not Quite Good Enoughs, Nice But Dulls and No Chance In Hells.
This one perhaps has even more layers than the others.
As much as I try to be minimalist, frugal, and non-consumerist, I can’t deny that sometimes buying stuff just feels good.
Perhaps it’s simply a reminder of how very fortunate I am, and how many blessings I have to count, and being able to add just one more.
There’s also that oxymoron of buying more, but it being something that you perceive as excellent value, because it cost so much less now than when it was new.
It’s still consumption, but in the more palatable (dis)guise of a bargain.
My inner frugal minimalist loves paying £26 for a DSLR that was originally hundreds, because it feels like I’m bucking the system, opting out of the upgrade parade, and those hundreds I’ve not spent on a camera can be put to less selfish use, like a family holiday, or gifts for the children.
The flaw here, is that this ploy works brilliantly once or twice, but if you buy 50 cameras, even at £10 each, you’ve spent £500. Not such a bargain.
Fortunately, I was able more often than not to gain more than I spent in the sale of all of those cameras.
But it would be so easy to lose track and be hundreds down, kidding yourself you’re highly frugal because you never outlay more than £10 or £20 on a camera.
Broken down, it’s easy to see how attractive buying cameras is.
The huge appeal and advantages of using just a few cameras are almost constantly under threat from the pleasure, promise and purchase of buying more.
How about you? What draws you into buying another camera? How does it make you feel?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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