Step 1: Admission

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea. Last week.

Hi.

My name is Josh and I’m anย addict.

No, I never did drugs. I don’t smoke. I hardly even drink.

I’m addicted to something more pricey than any of those. I’m addicted to cameras.

Any kind of camera. I don’t discriminate. I don’t care anymore if it is expensive. I don’t care if it is new. I don’t care if I’ve tried it before. If it is out there to be bought, I probably want to buy it.

I get angry at other addicts. This stems from a strong denial of my affliction. Stems from the inability to admit my own flaws.

Some say there isn’t anything wrong. This ISN’T an addiction. I’m here to say, they are wrong. Addiction by definition is the inability to stop a habit.

There are many symptoms. First, the morning coffee. The coffee, a different addiction, is just a means to sit in front of a computer and feed. The first thing you may check is ESPN or the news. That makes the addiction feel less real. Next though, the reality of it.

The next part depends on the “drug” of choice. Maybe you go directly to the newest gear news. If you prefer the old stuff, you check used shops for their newest posts. I used to be the prior but have migrated towards the later. “Wow, that is interesting” or “I took one of my favorite pictures with one of those.” The starting thoughts to a chain of events leading to getting a fix.

At this point, “you” still don’t feel there is a problem.

“I’m just looking..”

At work during free moments you check forums or reviews. Listen to other addicts talk about why they needed that fix. If you’re like me, you look at the old photos you took with the current “mark.”

“I remember when I took this. I really loved that camera…”

Other people need to latest and greatest. They aren’t the nostalgic type addicts like myself. They can forget the past easily because it will never be as good as the future. I was like this before. I remember the feeling of not wanting to use my current because I knew I would get the newer. The “lame duck” mentality.

“What if I take the picture of my life with this? How can I get something else then?”

This leads to another problem. Hoarding. The inability to let go because at some point something may be needed. Some day, you may want to fondle or hold. I’ve never really been a hoarder, but addiction is unpredictable.

Justification. The crux of the matter.

“If I only had that camera I could take the shots I want.”

Weirdly, that thought is very rarely followed by:

“I wonder how I can take interesting shots with the camera I have?”

At least not in the mind of an addict.

In our hypothetical day, the addict will then spend the rest of it daydreaming about what they could do with the new camera. They will dream of the inspiration. Somehow, when looking at forums and reviews they don’t seem to see the negatives. Either that or ignore them.

Finally before the day is over the website is checked one last time. Some small part of your brain wants it to be sold.

Not because you want the addiction to stop but because you want it to continue.

“It wasn’t really that good anyway. Tomorrow, there will be something better.”

Seoul, South Korea. 2014.

Seoul, South Korea. 2014.

When I look at my favorite photographers, there is something interesting about them. For the most part, they have a very specific style. Their photos have a “look.” They have a clearly defined “feeling” to their photos. Something that isn’t easily explained aside from with another hypothetical situation.

I open flickr and I see a photo without the name because, I am of course at work and the browser window is minimized. Even so, I know right away that photo was taken by Junku Nishimura ( a friend from Japan and probably one of the best contemporary street photographers in existence). I don’t need his name to know the photo is his.

People will argue this point. Most of the people that argue will be addicts. I know because I did so myself. They will say that if you have a style you can take photos of that style with anything. This is true, on some levels, but not all. Not because of specifications or technical details but because of the vision of the artist. Their camera is just their tool. It is a method to expose a frame. A medium on which to capture.

Anyway, I digress. I am slowly recovering. It is hard, I still fall back into the routine of addiction. Maybe I will always be an addict. In fact, I think I will be. I just want to learn how to deal with it better. I NEED to. I want to be proud of the work I’ve made and want it to be consistent. This addiction doesn’t allow for that.

So, I’ve decided to start with the 12 steps. 12 steps of my own invention. Consider this, step one.

Admitting I have a problem.

Step 2 is maybe the first on the actual road to recovery. A pact. A pact to use one camera and one lens for a year. 365 days. More on this tomorrow.

Tokyo, Japan.

Tokyo, Japan. 2011.

26 thoughts on “Step 1: Admission

  1. I feel your pain Josh. I try not to talk about gear on my blog if I possibly can, for the simple reason that if I did I probably wouldn’t stop. The problem is that there are far too many cameras out there and only one you, at the end of the day you can only hold one camera at a time.

    My problem is that the camera I want doesn’t exist, it is an itch I cannot scratch, so how do I get around that problem is the question I often ask myself.

    • Yeah, I suppose this is the type of thing where I’m much, much better than I used to be. It used to be trying to get the latest and greatest. Now, it is just more about being bored. Honestly, this is something that probably should have been said by myself years ago when it was quite a serious problem. Now, for me, it is more about what it does to my photography, as I can’t see the cohesion between my photos that I wish I had.

      • We all suffer with G.A.S to some degree, it is just that some choose not to admit it I guess.Cohesion is the key though as you say, to have a narrative across your images, maybe sticking to one lens and then switching bodies to feed our addiction might be the answer, ha.

        Really like the smoking girl shot by the way, a real FILM-NOIR look to it.

  2. Congratulations on taking the first step JT. Just know that we are all here for you should you start sensing a relapse! If you wanna really hurt, make that camera your smartphone! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Keep up the fantastic blog and good luck!

    • haha, honestly the first real step was made a long time ago but it is something I still struggle with of course. As I said in reply to Steve above, now it just drives me nuts that my photos don’t feel like they have a consistent look. Probably why I deleted most of them a couple of years ago. But even since then, while better, they aren’t something yet I’m “proud” of.

  3. Hi Josh,
    Thanks a lot for your true words which hit directly my addicted camera heart. Actually I try to make a living without GAS and work only with two Fuji 690 (65mm & 90mm) as well as with my Nikon D3. It is hard…
    In the past four or five years I bought and sold so much cameras that I’m now at the stage were I almost owned all medium format cameras which I could afford. Over the years I realized that weight matters. That is why I choosed the two Fuji 690 cameras. Anything else is nice but it does not bother me to much. In othere words gear is not sexy enough anymore. Some cameras (Pentacon six and Kiev 60) I bought five times to realize that they do NOT suit my style. But I loved them for their design. Love your blog and the images you take. No matter which camera you use you got your style! Keep up with your blog and looking forward to tomorrow’s message.

  4. Josh – I’ve been following you now for over 3 years since we met at Eric’s workshop in Toronto. I have to disagree. Your work definitely has a consistency to it – and it has spanned over several cameras. It is a consistency I strive for and cannot achieve (I think due to lack of discipline mostly). When I see a thumbnail on either my phone or laptop, I immediately can recognize if it is yours without even opening. Maybe it’s the camera, maybe it’s the post-processing – or likely a combination of both driven by your clear vision and discipline. You’re being too hard on yourself. Keep up the great work!

    Jeff

  5. Totally agree with you there Jeff now that I think about it, if there is one thing Josh’s images are it is consistent. They stand out instantly above anything else on WordPress I know of. Like they say it is the photographer not the camera, a good photographer could make consistent and interesting images out of a baked-bean can and a roll of film if nothing else was to hand.

    • Thanks Steve ๐Ÿ˜‰ as much as I enjoy baked beans, I might have a hard time with that though lol. I don’t know why but that reminded me instantly of a Top gear challenge ha.

    • There are a whole lot of great photographers out there (on WordPress too), but aren’t often noticed by other photographers because we look through our own narrow mind set. That is gear interest especially. From a more personal and photographic point of view I have been photographing with (mostly) one camera and fixed prime lens for over two years and feel absolutely no need to change that. And while sure the choice of the camera matters to me, I really don’t care if others know what I’m using or not. Just focusing on photography from a non-technique point of view can be very liberating and can really help you becoming a better photographer and a more open-minded person.

      • Yeah, I completely agree. The only thing I struggle with now is film vs. digital. I love film, but it is hard to pay for nowadays. Aside from that, I don’t really care a whole lot anymore what I use aside from trying to keep things together.

  6. In this ‘world as one’, commercialized, capitalized modern world, we just have to roll with it. As long as we’re clear which of our camera is for work, project, job. There’s the real trouble when we can’t pick one when head out on any given day. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. i just made a friend of mine, who is also addicted to cameras, read this and he felt like you were stealing the words from his mouth. Long story short, this was thoughtful and good job.

  8. Thinking that getting a new “better” camera could make my pictures even better has screwed up my direction, look, signature in photography more than once. Be it shooting film, a better/crappier digital camera. I could never find that “look” in the newer camera. It has happened so much in the development in the camera industry since I started “for real” photographing in 2004. I have been more a camera tester than an artist. Yes, I am an addict – and I love it.

  9. I can relate, but I do discriminate. I don’t care about digital cameras. Honestly, digital cameras are just things for me, like a toaster or a microwave oven. I only buy one when the old one doesn’t work anymore, and I don’t want to spend too much money on them.

    Analog cameras: different story. Something about the design, the sound of the click, the history of the camera – it used to be enough to hit the “buy now” button on eBay. Even if I knew it wasn’t the right camera for my style or eyesight (looking at you, Olympus XA).

    Unfortunately (or maybe not), I’ve come to the point I really cannot afford shooting film anymore. So I recently sold all my analog stuff. Except for my two favorite manual lenses (Helios and Zuiko), as I still use them on my very unpretentious, mirrorless cameras. The first step on my road to recovery.

    Now, I only need to control to urge to buy a new bag-that-doesn’t-look-like-a-camerabag every year.

    • Yes, I know what you mean. I kept a Fujifilm Xpro1 just for that reason. I shoot the old manual lenses on it. Wrote about it in Step 2 just now. I agree with your take on analogue cameras and feel somewhat the same about my old one. Will be around until it is completely done.

      Camerabags, haha. I don’t really use them if I’m honest. I get them as gifts a lot, haha, and usually just rip out the padding and stick it in whatever bag I’m using at the moment.

  10. A noble addiction in my eyes, and I hold great feelings for my Mark III as we’ve has experienced some great moments together. I am intrigued by the mirrorless, and one day will make the move – all while remembering my past tools of happiness.

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