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Can a new gear kick-start your photography?

The function Can new equipment give a kickstart to your photography? first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Charlie Moss.

1 - Can give a new gear a kickstart to your photography - Charlie Moss

I am sure you have heard of "Gear Acquisition Syndrome" or GAS in short. Photographers usually regard GAS as negative; spend frivolous money that you don't need on equipment that won't make your photography better. However, I am here to tell you that a new piece of kit is sometimes just what you need to inspire you to do something else with your photography.

White rose in a golden basket. 2 - Can new equipment kick start your photography - Charlie Moss

Get out of your comfort zone

It is easy to become self-righteous with the equipment that you already have. You get to the point where you know it inside and out, and you have no trouble using the kind of images you love. Many photographers have always used the same system, the same lenses for years, and have occasionally upgraded to a new camera body to keep pace with new technology.

Of course there is nothing wrong with that approach. Sticking to what you already know produces results that can be a wise use of your limited time and resources. However, sometimes a piece of new equipment can push you outside of your comfort zone, forcing you to experiment with new techniques and styles.

A modernist piece of architecture. 3 - Can new equipment kick start your photography - Charlie Moss

A modernist piece of architecture. © Charlie Moss

New equipment for a new style

For me, it was a combination of a new Fujifilm mirrorless camera and a 50 mm equivalent lens that forced me to try new styles. Carrying my digital SLR camera with me always felt like a big job; it was so big and heavy. The Fujifilm X-T20, on the other hand, is small and lightweight. It feels much more like the little Yashica rangefinder that my grandfather always had with me on every family vacation. I noticed that with my new small camera I would take much more spontaneous and joyful photos instead of the "serious" photos I took on my larger digital SLR camera.

But what really changed my photography, and yours could change, was the investment in a new lens. I didn't spend a fortune – a second-hand Fujifilm 35mm f / 1.4 lens found its way into my possession. It is a 50 mm equivalent lens (on the Fujifilm X-T20 crop sensor body), so it is the classic length for many photographic styles. It is an excellent focal length for portraits, street photography, food and still life. So as soon as it arrived, I started testing it extensively. I must point out that I have included every image in this article with the new lens.

Two images of bright yellow classic cars' s. One image is of a chrome-plated exterior mirror, the other is a Humber logo. 4 - Can New Gear kickstart your photography - Charlie Moss

Bright yellow classic cars ' s – a chrome-finished exterior mirror and a Humber logo. © Charlie Moss

Do you really need new equipment?

I get it; not everyone has the money to go out and pick up a new lens or camera, just to see if it helps them to be more creative. And maybe it wasn't even the lens or the camera that inspired me to change the way I photographed. Many people manage to change their style without spending money on it.

So with that in mind, I have a few suggestions for getting out of your comfort zone before you break your credit card.

Two images of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. 5 - Can new equipment kick start your photography - Charlie Moss

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. © Charlie Moss

Look at more photography

I don't just mean on social media. Go out in the real world. Go to a photo exhibition or an art gallery with a photo collection. If you live somewhere near a big city, photo exhibitions shouldn't be that hard to find. Be open to the kind of work that you could see. Try to remember that you are looking for something to inspire a new way of working!

Also bring a notebook. Take notes while walking through the gallery and looking at images. Think about how the artworks make you feel or that there is a certain detail that you love. Perhaps there is a subject that you have never thought of to photograph. Or perhaps a new use of color that you had not considered for your own work.

Don't forget to look for work when you get home! Many photographers now have a presence on social media, so you can stay up to date with their current projects. Historical photographers have often written a lot about them on museum and gallery websites that you can read.

Two street scenes from Oxford, UK. One is located in the Botanical Gardens and looks through a doorway at a wheelbarrow. The other is a woman who runs a scientific laboratory. 6 - Can new equipment kick start your photography - Charlie Moss

Two street scenes from Oxford, UK. Left: Botanical gardens look through a doorway to a wheelbarrow. Right: a woman who runs for a scientific laboratory. © Charlie Moss

Try a new genre

Choose something that you have never done before in photography. Do some research online and then go out and try to photograph it. Be brave – what's the worst that can happen?

For me it was street photography. I read some tutorials, talked to some friends, checked some photos on social media and then set off for the day and just tried it. If the images were nonsense, I still had a fun day out taking photos!

It is too easy to become very conservative with your approach to photography. Staying with what you know works well is a simple approach, but you may miss a new type of photography that you absolutely love. Becoming fearless and trying new things is something that can benefit all photographers – from beginners to professionals! We all need a kickstart with our work every now and then.

Two pictures. One is a self-portrait with blurry Christmas lights. The other is a white and red passage. 7 - Can new equipment kick start your photography - Charlie Moss

Follow a trend

Of course we all want to be trendsetters instead of followers. But once in a while it is good to experiment with something that clearly appeals to the imagination of many other photographers!

Instagram is great to see what is already in fashion in the world of photography. These can be portraits with blurry bright lights that create bokeh, or beautiful doors and beautiful houses. Even if you don't like the images you create, any trend offers you the opportunity to experiment with a new technique. You can learn more about the technical aspects of photography, about composition or even about styling. The key is to learn these new things that you have learned and use them in your own authentic way.

A photo of new buildings on Albert Embankment, London. 8 - Can new equipment kick start your photography - Charlie Moss

A photo of new buildings on Albert Embankment, London. © Charlie Moss

Whatever you do – do something!

If there is one thing that I am sure about, it is that if you never try anything new in your photographic practice, you will regret it later. So take a leap of faith and try something new.

Start by working out what you want to try photographically. See if you can try without investing in new stuff. However, don't be afraid to think about whether a new piece of gear could bring you a new way of working. A lens, a flash or a new lighting modifier. Maybe even a new camera.

Also do not forget to let us know in the comments what you intend to try. Or if you've changed things in the past, let us know what you did to breathe new life into your photography and how well it worked for you!

The function Can new equipment give a kickstart to your photography? first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Charlie Moss.

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