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More gear won't make you more creative

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it; they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” Steve Jobs

A gathering of many different cameras littering a grassy lawn
If gear is all we need to make us more creative, then our creative output would equal our bank balance

It all begins in the mind; no matter what your creativity is, the spark never happens with the equipment we use. There is no doubt that equipment can have a vital part to play in many creative outlets; a painter needs a brush, a sculptor needs a chisel, and an embroiderer needs a needle.

No one is suggesting that gear is unimportant, but reliance on more of it or more expensive versions of it will never work. With all their program options and processing power, even computers can't make anything by themselves; they need a human brain to instruct them on what to do.

“More gear only helps when we've honed what we're already creative at, not the other way around. There is no shortcut for time.”

The only thing that makes us more creative is time, 10,000 hours, in fact. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book "Outliers," shows how as we reach that magical number, then things start to change, subtle connections are made, and the nuanced choices of gear and settings come into play.

Nobody starts at the top of their game

No famous photographer ever started out as a gangly teenager with the most expensive camera, but they grew into it over time. They usually worked their way from a basic camera, finding out what it couldn't do over time, then moved up a notch or two in quality. But those gear choices could only be fully driven by their experience up to that point.

Sometimes we only know what we need when we've gone one step too far

This process was repeated over and over and over until they finally understood what specific equipment was sufficient to help them fully express their creative vision. Indeed, it's not uncommon to hear of photographers who, mid-career, moved back to a previous camera where they were able to do all they needed, but in a more straightforward way.

We will almost certainly buy too much equipment, and we will always be swayed by what others in our genre are using. There's a whole creativity industrial complex aimed at fooling you into thinking you need their 'stuff' to become creative; this is false.

More product doesn't make you more creative. To be more creative, we simply need to start with what's inside our heads.

Why not give it a try?

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