I’m Not an Equipment Freak…at least I don’t think so

by | Feb 24, 2021

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

“It has been said a thousand times that photography is a universal language. To accept this notion is to ignore the fact that its meanings cannot be translated in anything other than a woolly and imprecise manner.” – Pete Turner

I’ve always been a fan of the photography of the late Pete Turner and his images were a major influence of my work during my film days, I’ve always thought photography was the universal language and somewhere during these 150 years it evolved a language of its own. But every now and then it changes. The meaning of dodge and burn, for example, flipped during the last 50 years.

And back in the film days whenever people seemed more obsessed with their gear than photographs it made, they were called equipment freaks.

Nowadays, if you’re a pixel peeper some shooters are accused of having GAS, “gear acquisition syndrome,” a term I’m not all that comfortable with, much like the use of “capture” to describe making a photograph or how some people on social media type “desent” when they mean “decent.” But unless you’re living a Cartier-Bresson-like existence with one camera and a 50mm lens, chances are you own more than a few pieces of gear.

How I made this shot: The above image of Pam Simpson was shot in my 11×15-foot home studio using a Panasonic Lumix GH4, a refurb if you’ve been following that saga. The lens was a used image stabilized Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 (at 26mm) that I purchased from a camera store in Japan via eBay. Exposure was 1/125 sec at f/8 and ISO 200. Lighting was provided two Paul C Buff DigiBee DB800’s and one Alien Bee B800 monolights. Background was the handpainted Carbonite muslin from Silverlake Photo Accessoires.

My workaday cameras include Canon DSLRs and Olympus and Panasonic mirrorless cameras and if left to my own devices I’ll reach for the mirrorless cameras first. (Lately I’ve been shooting with the full-frame mirrorless Lumix S1R while testing some Sigma L-mount lenses, but the lens and camera belong to their respective companies.)

It may be worth mentioning, that all of the cameras and lenses used to make the photographs that appear on this blog and any magazine articles and books I’ve written were bought with my own money, although sometimes Mary has purchased gear for me, so I guess that’s her money. The exception may be gear, like the Lumix S1R, that’s on loan from a manufacturer for a review. You may be surprised to learn that after reviewing this gear I return it to the manufacturer. There are no freebies, at least not for me. Since I pay for all of my own gear you’ll probably notice that some of the cameras that I use are “old” and occasionally I’ve received e-mail asking “why are you using that old thing?” I’m not an equipment freak for good reason: I can’t afford to be.

My book Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography is full of tips and techniques for using the cameras and lenses in my gear closet to produce glamour and portrait photographs. New copies of the book are available from Amazon for $22.15, with used copies selling for the low price of $8.90, as I write this, which is a bargain just based on its 125 pages. Kindle version is $19.99 for those preferring a digital format.