Florida-based photographer Olivier Duong has expanded his ongoing examination of so-called 'Gear Acquisition Syndrome' with a description of how he overcame his own personal addiction to buying photographic equipment. Categorizing G.A.S. as a 'habit', Duong identifies three components - trigger, routine, and reward.

Photo: Olivier Duong

Duong's trigger, he says, was 'forums and gear websites' (ahem...) which feature what he calls 'camera porn'. His routine, or reaction, was a feeling of 'unease', of feeling like 'I can't shoot anymore' without the particular camera or lens that caught his eye, and then, ultimately, the purchase of that item.

His reward, which will be familiar to many of us, was 'instant gratification'. Duong describes the feeling as 'FINALLY you can be a photographer. Finally [...] you're going to take great pictures'. Describing this as a 'an infernal cycle that costs time and money', he notes 'the euphoria does not last'.

In this, the second part of his examination of 'gear acquisition syndrome', Duong describes how he went about overcoming his addition by 'changing the routine, [but] keeping the trigger, and the reward'. 

The Nikon Data Link System allowed users of the Nikon N90S/F90X to record shooting information and trigger exposures from a PDA (remember them?)

Duong describes this as a 'big, stupid buy' from the peak of his gear addiction. [Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

Many of us will be familiar with the inner dialogues which surround important decisions, especially purchase decisions. The devil on your shoulder telling you that you need something, you can afford it, and it will benefit you in some way. Duong calls this 'self talk' - in his words, the 'rationalization [of] the action of buying new gear'.

One of the most common convictions of the gear addict is that buying this or that new piece of kit will make them happier. Duong describes how he deals with this particularly damaging 'self talk' by focusing on his own life. Describing how 'when growing up, I didn’t have running water', Duong explains 'when a thought of a new camera comes, I shift the focus to my current gear, how much I love my trusty Ricoh GRD IV and my NEX 7 and not what [another] camera can do for me.'

Another common element of gear acquisition addiction is the belief that buying new equipment will improve your photography. Writing about how he went through cycles of buying more powerful cameras, and brighter lenses that he 'barely used', Duong describes his revelation that 'one of the keys to better photography is not to upgrade the camera but to upgrade your relationship with it'. 

Ultimately, according to Duong, 'Getting more cameras didn’t make me [a better photographer], it simply provided me some more stuff to hide behind'.

For more insights into Olivier Duong's experiences, we'd highly recommended heading to his blog and reading the full article, as well as part one - extracts from which we've also featured on dpreview. It's one of the most honest and inspiring articles about the psychology of obsession that we've come across.