Getting rid of photo equipment clutter

© 2017 Peter Free


29 March 2017



Equipment idle too long?


Nothing deep here.


Just an acknowledgement that time and technological advance encourage us to face the sadness of getting rid of photography "stuff" that has not been used for years.



If you are an aging photographer


You may have a bunch of unused cameras, lenses and dark room equipment lying around.


If you never change homes, these items could (of course) unproblematically collect dust, until your estate's executor gets rid of them.


On the other hand, if you:



(a) move frequently (as I have to)




(b) unused clutter irritates your psyche —



the pile of languishing items probably needs to disappear.


For serious (usually meaning "hoarding") photographers, the equipment reduction process can be painful.



Aging — combined with a coming geographic move — motivated me to lighten my rowboat of stuff today


I held onto a significant amount of unused photography equipment through 23 years of military moves. Today, I let a bunch of it go.


Being too many decades into Life's transit, I do not want to torment my executor with piles of probable landfill items. I'd rather go light into this final lap.


In deciding what to toss, a bit of reflection was necessary.



First — inapplicability of the 3-year rule?


One rule regarding clutter excision is to get rid of what has not been used for 3 years.


Obviously, this guideline falls short with regard to tools. I have lots of tools that I use only rarely. But when I do need them, they are impressively time and cost-saving.


Tools stay with me, unless circumstances deny the space to transport and store them. Which, unfortunately, is common for military families.


Photo equipment falls into the tool category. Yet once cameras and such have been technologically solidly bypassed, we generally hold onto them only for nostalgic or craftsperson reasons.


What I threw out and recycled today consisted of low-value camera bodies, not-so-good lenses, black and white film filters, and film camera gizmos and accessories. At best, these might have been considered non-connoisseur's technology memorabilia.


The wistfulness that accompanied the elimination process consisted of fact that the obsolete (but still common) equipment worked perfectly. But not being branded Nikon, Leica or Hasselblad (for example) the eventually landfill-destined items had no societally-acknowledged worth.


And for me, dust-attraction and unnecessary space-taking negate the value of keeping my memories in physical form.



Plus, there is the digital substitute


Quite some years ago, digital photography supplanted film for me. Even down to 8x10 view camera photography, which arguably can still stand on its own.


I found that I could do creatively more much less expensively with Photoshop than I ever could with my past darkroom skills.


If you share the digital is good enough perspective, you can free yourself from the expense and space waste involved in having owning film cameras and the craft-enhancing dark room that is (for some) necessary to support them.



The test — relief or sorrow?


My own test — for whether getting rid of objects works emotionally — is to bag them in plastic and lay them outside in the home's trash container.


I go about my business for a few hours or days and see whether I am experiencing substantial regret. If I do, I rescue the inappropriately trashed stuff.


Usually, the lightened load encourages me to reduce it further. The cycle repeats.



Armoring the psyche — is the Universe out to get you?


I accept that our Perverse Universe is always going to get me, after I throw things out.


Invariably within 6 months, I will find that I could have used one of the tossed items — even when the abandoned object had not been used for 20 years or more.


In such cases, I flip the Universe a fond "Screw You" and continue on with unmended ways.



Note (however) that





(a) you are less resiliently stubborn than I am




(b) you fall into the category of people that "God" likes to needle —



you should probably ignore what I have said about the desirability of clutter reduction.



The moral? — Lightening the load is good, except when it is bad


Successful clutter elimination depends on character. Being a quasi-minimalist, I struggle with tossing unnecessary belongings less than most. Occasionally I have regrets and manage those with a laugh.