Some folks have asked me about when they should buy gear.
Instead of telling them when, I have come up with something here that helps me with my purchasing decisions which I shared with them, and now would like to share with you hoping it could be of some help for you as well.
It is not a perfect set of guidelines but it somehow helps me manage my expenses. I hope it can help you with that too!
- If you’re buying new gear, what you earn from photography only should help make back your expenditure within 3 months. If you exceed 3 months, you either can’t afford it in the first place or are not working hard or smart enough.Rule 1 does not necessarily apply to specialized gear which require a higher budget which you absolutely need to fulfil clientele’s requirements. I know of some commercial photographers who require a specific megapixel count for their client work and need to invest in it.
Better gear + Skills + Consistent clientele = Better rates; Clients who are confident in your work will keep coming back
- If you’re a hobbyist with deep pockets, are you going to use it often or is it going to stay in a dry cabinet? If you use it less than 10 times in 3 months, you have wasted money. Should have rented it.
- Is this item going to be replaced within 3 YEARS, or worse, 3 months? If yes, you have wasted money. Should have rented it. Renting before buying is a good way to determine if you really need something too. On the other hand, if you rent a piece of equipment too often for jobs, you might as well invest in it and have your own. Transport costs can accumulate overtime to pick up and return rented gear.
- If the item costs more than $3000, adjust the 3 months accordingly – 6, 9, 12 months… follow quarterly calendars to gauge your expenditure.
- If you’re a professional and need it because of work, then go ahead but please do some checks on financial status. Lease options and instalment plans are helpful in short term but interest rates are always a reason for further consideration.
- If you intend to use it daily for professional or recreational purposes and have the money for it, go for it.
- Some things are a MUST to invest in if you are a photographer – a good PC/laptop (or MacBook Pro), a dry cabinet, lens cleaning kit, etc. Don’t be caught without these!
- General rule of thumb for order of purchase:
- A decent PC/laptop Software (Capture One highly recommended – do let me know if you need a copy!)
- Lens/Cameras (I would personally prioritize lenses over camera bodies)
- Color calibration tools (if you do a lot of printing, purchase this with your PC/laptop)
- Tablet with stylus
This set of rules helps me justify the reasons for buying something and help prevent Gear Acquistion Syndrome. The temptation is always strong but every expenditure needs to have a purpose.
If you have any further suggestion, let me know!