Love of Equipment

(c) 2010 Brian E. Miller Photography

I know a person who owns a very nice camera.  It’s quite expensive.  But he does not take it out with him to make photographs, even when on vacation, for fear that he might damage it or it might get stolen.  It seems to me that he loves his gear more than he loves making images.  I have another friend who takes her equally expensive camera everywhere she goes.  It is always out of its bag, shutter clicking away, in all kinds of weather.  Seems to me she loves making images far more than she loves her gear.

This is something we all face at some point if we do something for the enjoyment of it.  We have to choose which we love more: the activity or the gear that is used in making that activity.  I’ve seen people struggle with this choice in sports, art, leisure activities, etc.  To be sure we often spend lots of money on the gear but something is lost, in my eyes at least, when we make it more precious than what it is meant to produce.  In cycling I’ve seen racers lose races for fear of damaging their bicycle and in the above example…well, that speaks for itself.  I understand valuing the gear, but should we do so at the expense of the experience or the art?

At some point, I suppose, we have to ask ourselves if we are willing to risk our equipment in service of our art: our life.  A well known photographer, David duChemin, likes to say “gear is good, vision is better.”  With that in mind, can you put your gear in service of your vision?  And if so, might you be willing to risk sacrificing your gear in service of your vision?

Note: The image above was taken while my 23 month old son and I explored a back alley near a coffee shop in our town.  If ever there is a risk to expensive photographic equipment, using it around a young child is it.  But you know, I wouldn’t trade any of the images I have made while spending time with him for the safety of my camera.  The camera is replaceable; the images and the memories are not.

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8 Responses to Love of Equipment

  1. Marc says:

    Live life and bring your camera I say…..well done Brian. Nice story and great image. PS – I haven’t run off to Spain with your flash, I can bring it by manana

  2. Great post, Brian!
    I’m one of those that carries my camera everywhere – when we’re leaving the house, I grab it when I grab my purse. I take it to the pool, and hover it inches above the water. It’s on the table when we’re at a restaurant with my small children (who spill things). It frequently rattles around on the front seat of my car. I did notice that it has developed a little rattle of its own (that I don’t think it’s supposed to have). I don’t think I’m lucky or talented enough to “find” a shot, I think it has to find me. The light, the subject, sometimes it just appears in front of me. Thankfully, I usually have my camera with me. I totally agree with you – gear can be replaced, moments can’t.

    • Brian Miller says:

      Thanks Nancy. It’s well worth the risk to the camera, isn’t it? But it’s making funny noises? Uh-oh. The worst part about that is going without a camera (and missing all those great shots) while it is up at the mother ship getting cleaned out.

  3. carmelablue says:

    A beautiful, thoughtful post, Brian! Lovely image! I love how the world is filled with treasures like this one you’ve found. Grateful for cameras and those who love to use them 🙂

    • Brian Miller says:

      Thanks Carmela! Glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, the world is full of treasures…we just need to stay open to them (following a 23 month old around and seeing things through their eyes helps…:)

  4. Joshua Davis says:

    I’m both…. I want to get a small expensive camera that I can bring everywhere so that I can not bring my big expensive camera. 😉

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