Nothing wrong with spending that Christmas bonus from your day job for a new gear or photography equipment -- but if you're cashing out thousands to have them all to yourself, perhaps it's time to sit down and reflect on your impulsive cravings before indulging on them.
It's not that difficult to understand what Gas Acquisition Syndrome is. It's a case of impulsive buying. Psychology Today defines it as "lustily buying more tools than you need". G.A.S. used to refer to musicians who loved to buy instruments lustily, but the term has become more and more familiar among photographers. It's no surprise, as photographic technology continues to soar and progress so much in so little time.
Let's admit it, the camera store is our paradise, the feeling is similar to a bibliophile when he's surrounded by aisles and aisles of bookshelves. Reality check: you can't have them all, unless you're on a curator's mission.
G.A.S during the holidays and the symptoms
Old habits die hard, and it's impossible for people with the syndrome to 'get over' the shopaholic tendencies overnight. But as the holidays factor in, the constant banners and streams of commercials, sales, warnings, catchy and colorful paraphernalia to signal the compulsive shopper in you to fix your anxiety, a little bit of discipline may be required. Some would even use the holidays as an excuse to 'shop more', disguising the act of shopping for the self as 'gift shopping'. Worse is we immediately feel compelled to buy the latest, most expensive camera out in the market just for the sake of owning one.
These are the symptoms of suffering from G.A.S. during the holidays, according to Good Therapy:
1. Spending money to alleviate feelings of worry, guilt, or depression
2. Hiding purchases from loved ones
3. Purchasing many things that are never used
4. Lying about spending habits
5. Feeling euphoric during or immediately after shopping
6. Accumulating significant debt
7. Spending significantly more on purchases than other people with similar incomes
8. Being unable to stop spending, even when it interferes with your life
9. Spending money on consumer goods rather than saving, paying bills, or meeting other financial obligations
Again, there's nothing wrong at all with treating yourself to a new toy, but imagine the heaps of photographic gear left untouched, unexplored to its full potential, reduced to mere displays or junk around the house instead of using them to capture photographs or truly aid you to your photography, or help you grow and experiment. Here in Lomography, experimentation and trying new things are part of the creed, but there's also the stance in which photographers should be free spirits, away from the ultra-consumerism that the holidays have become.
If you're going to buy things, at least make them 'worth it'. The best criteria for setting priorities is to think, "is this any different than the others I already have?". Got a 35mm compact camera collection? Why not trade your next purchase for your first instant camera or your first medium format? A hoarder of color negatives? Try black and white emulsions. If you already have a heap of the most common lenses, how about trying something new and opt for artistic lenses instead?
The better advice? Why not shop for your artist and photographer friends for a change, channel those compulsive lust into generosity? Yes, it's still technically you 'buying', but the changes do not come overnight, quite foolish to halt it one blow only to regress back in compulsion. It's impossible for anyone to stop you from buying unless you choose not to. Baby steps, if one would put it.
Go out more and take more photographs, or donate those hoards of unused and dusty gear to people who actually will use it. A cleverer ruse: sell them. You won't have to feel guilty buying that new toy now with the money.
Experimentation is good, trying new things is brave, but moderation is always key.
What are your own tips for a person with Gear Acquisition Syndrome? What do you plan on buying for yourself for this holiday, and why? Let us know through the comments below!
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