Fanboy (and girl) psychology explained.

Here’s the text of the YouTube video I posted today:

So a new camera model comes out and you tell yourself: “I’ve got to have that!”.  Or, you already despise it because it made by a manufacturer other than the gear you already have.  How to we explain this strange behaviour?

Well it seems Freud’s constructs of the mind seem to have been created for photographers.  According the Freud, there are three parts to a human personality: the Id, the Ego and the Super-ego.

The Id is that part of you that adheres to the pleasure principle.  It’s that inner-child that wants everything.  It’s impulsive and demands immediate gratification.  The problem is, it conflicts with reality.

The ego is the part that is based in reality.  It’s like a reasonable home.  You own it, it’s a long term investment and you’re ready to defend it.

Why?  Because of the super-ego.  This is like a loft apartment above your home but you only rent it.  It’s not yours.  In fact, your parents live there and sometimes your old teachers.  It’s in charge of right and wrong and guilt and you have no control over it. It pushes you to follow cultural rules and wants you to act in a socially appropriate manner.

How do these relate to camera gear?  The Id wants you to buy everything you see, but the super-ego says “No! We can’t afford it”.  Your ego sits in the middle and tries to rationalize between the two.

Why is the super-ego such a pain in the arse?  Well we’ve been conditioned from an early age that there are only two possible states of being: right or wrong.  We reward right answers in school with higher grades and we suffer humiliation when we offer a wrong answer.  We are conditioned to always want to be right.  Any purchase we make has to be the right one.  Our Western culture is based on duality.  Look at the political system: left or right which equates to right or wrong depending on which party you adhere to.  Our political leaders are narcissists who can never be wrong.  Our legal system is confrontational.  Someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong.

So, our egos try to come up with arguments to make sure we’re always right.  And this ego, driven by the super-ego is willing to forgo happiness for the sake of winning an argument.  How many people have had a useless argument with a friend or their significant other just to prove they’re right?

These are not the hallmarks of a cooperative society.  This is the Western way.  I now understand when a journalist asked Gandhi what he thought of Western Civilization, he replied: “I think it would be a great idea”.

We’re ready to twist the facts to fit our narrative.  All in the name of being right.  At all cost.  But that’s wrong.  Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously said: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts”

Photography amateurs will bring all this baggage into web forums and YouTube videos.  They desperately need to prove that the camera model that they use is better than any other.

Folks, a camera is a tool.  It has no more importance to the artist than a hammer to a construction worker.  Sure, the construction worker will have a favourite hammer because of the weight distribution and how efficiently he can drive in a nail.  He doesn’t care about the brand of the hammer, as long as it serves it’s intended purpose.  We all know an amateur handyman who has the most expensive hammer in the store but can’t drive a nail.

So why vilify camera brands?  A camera is a tool.  No more, no less.  The artist takes the picture, not the machine.

I shoot with a Sony A-mount as my main camera.  Some people must think I’m crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’ve been shooting with Minolta and Sony cameras for the better part of nearly forty years.

Sure, I’d love to buy one of those new cameras with all the latest tech features.  But it wouldn’t make my pictures better than if I took them with another brand of camera.  One of my buddies shoots with Nikon and Olympus and boy, you should see the amazing pictures he takes.

And do you know something?  With all the improvements in technology, I’ve come to the conclusion that my cameras are not going to be taking better pictures…

I am.

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