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Getting Caught Up in the Upgrade Trap

Photographer at the Beach

But I Like This One!

I was at a get-together the other night and a friend of mine recounted her recent experiences at a local cell phone carrier store. She had lost her charger and wanted to get a replacement. This was not an easy task as her phone was old (I’m talking really old) and chargers for her type of phone were difficult to find these days. When she told the young man at the store that she wanted to replace her charger, he said, “But you’re eligible for a new phone. For free.” She replied, “But I don’t want a new phone. I like this phone.”

She told us that he was gobsmacked by the idea that she wasn’t willing to jump at the chance to obtain an free new phone — that she preferred to continue to use a phone that was several years old (and not very pretty anymore) rather than exchange it for a shiny new model. He called a couple of other stores and ended up finding her a charger that would work with her phone.

Our Need to Upgrade

This story really got me thinking about our need to upgrade to the latest and greatest gadget, whether we need it or not. Many of us fall into this trap of upgrading our phones, computers and tablets every one or two years, even though our current model is in perfect working order. It seems that whenever a new version of our device comes out, we no longer like our current item. We become dissatisfied with what we have and want something better.

Photographers and Upgrading

This need to have the latest and greatest gear seems to hold true for many photographers, myself included. Why just the other day, I found myself lusting over the latest Nikon SLR, even though my current camera works just fine and probably has several years of use ahead of it. Many of us feel that in order to take good pictures, we need the best camera, the best lens or the best filter. This need to have the newest equipment is not only costly, but can also hold a photographer back from progressing forward in his/her career. Some people become so obsessed with the gear that they lose the vision. I have even heard folks say that they can’t go “professional” until they get a “proper” camera (read: more expensive) that takes the best pictures possible.

So we purchase the expensive gear that marketers tell us we need and six months later, our stuff becomes obsolete as new, better gear comes out. Drat! Time to upgrade. Oftentimes, we don’t think twice about dumping our perfectly working gear for the latest iteration.

What Did the Masters Use?

I can’t help but think of the popular photographers of old, the masters. Did they have or need a camera that took 28 megapixel images? No. They took beautiful pictures with cameras that we today would scoff at. So jow did they do it? How did they take such gorgeous images with such subpar equipment? They knew their craft. That is to say, one’s success as a photographer does not depend on the type of camera one uses but rather on one’s skills and abilities. Having the best camera on the market will not a better photographer make. Only through practice, study and taking a hell of a lot of pictures can a person increase their photography skills.

Upgrade Only When We Need To

Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t upgrade our equipment when we need to, photography equipment or otherwise. I admit that I just recently upgraded my cell phone. But it wasn’t because I was lusting after latest and greatest model (well, perhaps just a bit). My previous phone would reboot itself several times throughout the day and often would become unresponsive to the point where I was unable to answer phone calls. Being as this was my business phone, this behavior was unacceptable. So yeah, it was time to upgrade.

While we often do need to upgrade our tools when they can no longer perform the work required of them, it might help to ask some questions first:

  • Why do I need to upgrade?
  • What would happen if I didn’t upgrade?
  • Can I wait six months/a year or do I need to upgrade now?
  • If my current device preventing me from getting my work done properly?
  • Would this upgrade be money well spent?
  • Do I need to upgrade or do I just want to upgrade?

Asking questions before replacing our equipment might prevent us from making hasty decisions and getting caught up in the never-ending upgrade trap. Perhaps like my friend, we can learn to be satisfied with what we have and not continuously lust after something new.

By the way, I didn’t buy the new Nikon nor will I anytime soon. I realized that I still like my current camera and it serves me just fine.

 

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