If you spend any time reading the mainstream photographic press, you’ll quickly realise that they are on a mission to tempt you into buying as much gear as possible. No great revelation there – they have advertisers to please, after all. The line they usually take is to play on fears of ‘missing the shot’. If you don’t have a bag full of lenses to cover every possible shooting situation, a bunch of filters, reflectors, flash, diffusers, etc., etc., you will end up being unable to take that killer shot which will win competitions, make you a ton of money and secure your place in history…. OK, perhaps I’m exaggerating just a tiny bit there.
Obviously, ‘The Gear’ is a big aspect of photography but can you have too much? Going back to basics and shooting with a limited number of focal lengths – maybe even without filters – is a great spur to creativity as well as being an excellent way of learning. With a lot of gear the danger is that you end up spending far too long deciding which lens is best or which filters to use rather than assessing the scene to see if you can make a workable composition with the equipment you happen to have with you. By spending time thinking through the design of an image you will almost certainly ending up making a better photograph than if you were to spend that same time trying to decide whether your 18-35mm zoom is sharper than your 24-70 and whether or not you really need to go wider than 24mm.
And there is another point. Sometimes, you can be too concerned with photography and totally miss the enjoyment of simply being there. If you don’t have the right equipment to make a certain image, just let it go. Chances are, there will be a much better one just around the corner that you can take. And, even if there isn’t, you can simply enjoy being out in a great location. So don’t worry about having ‘all the gear’. Make the best of the gear you do have and don’t forget to take time out from photography to relax and take in the sights, sounds and smells of where you happen to be.