As we go through life, we change in how we see the world. The seasons of life is a cliche, but it is also a good way of looking at life. As these seasons change, we change, hopefully always better for who we are.
I left Outdoor Photographer magazine as editor about eight years ago. I wanted to pursue my own work more. I am also glad I left the publishing industry because that industry has come under a huge amount of stress. I don't know of any print magazine that has not struggled at least to a degree in this different world of how people get information.
For a while I still kept up with all the latest gear and software. That had been a big part of my life with OP and the other Werner Publications photo magazines. Going through the transition to digital had been fascinating because I had had a front row seat to the photo industry.
Today, digital photography is strongly established as a very important part of photography. But I have become less and less interested in all of the gyrations of the photo industry and more interested in spending time with things that, for me, really matter, including nature, my wife and kids, and friends.
This has given me a rather different outlook on the photo industry, I think, because it does not fit the popular things going on about photo gear. I am no longer excited to simply gawk at the latest, most exciting shiny objects, and wonder how I can buy the stuff. When I was with the magazines, we were constantly seeing the latest and the best gear. Many people criticize all photo magazines for being too soft on photo gear companies.
I understand that, but that criticism shows a lack of understanding of how people work. We all connect with our environments, good or bad. And when there are exciting, new things constantly part of our environment, we tend to get caught up in that excitement and newness. That's not about magazines paying too much attention to advertisers, but about real people in an environment that is about thinking about exciting new products. This is also what happens, to a degree, to pros who are sponsored by companies. They are not necessarily "prostituting" themselves (as some people say) to those companies, they are simply cocooned in an environment that saturates them with the gear of such companies. So, as human beings, they are affected by that environment.
Now, I still pay attention to some of the trends in the photo industry, but I am a lot less interested in the crazy gyrations companies will do to try to keep people continuously buying their stuff. A good example of this is megapixels. The idea that we need more megapixels is absurd. Very few photographers even need the megapixels available on cameras today. A huge number of photographs are used on the web, and that doesn't require more than a couple of megapixels at most. For publications, 10 megapixels is enough (though it doesn't hurt to have a bit more).
But now what we all see are photographs using the latest supermegapixel cameras, the actual photo shown small (as if it were not important), then a small cropped area displayed to show how much detail is there. Okay, real world, folks. No one in the real world cares. They care about what a photo looks like, how it connects with them, what emotional content it carries and so forth. No normal person wants to know how many megapixels were used. If the only reason a viewer is interested in one of our photos is so that he/she can stick their nose against the image to see tiny detail, then for me, we have failed as photographers.
That also misses a very important point about photography as something separate from shiny objects that attract our attention. I want my gear to be tools that help me do a better job creating images that are important to me, not gear that impresses others because of some new "great advancement." A great advancement in sensors would be a higher dynamic range, not simply adding pixels, but the manufacturers are not so interested in that. Pixels are easy to sell, dynamic range is not, yet the latter is a far more important tool for us as photographers trying to render the world the best we can.
My perspective today is that digital photography has given us some phenomenal tools, and it is the tools that can help us create great photos. But I don't understand the need to create photos to show off the technology. Sure, you can "prove" a camera renders smaller detail than someone else at the camera club, that that is really not about photography. That is about technological one-upmanship.
I admit it, the photo industry is a lot less interesting to me today. That doesn't mean I don't care about the tools. I just saw a new item about Canon working on some special camera that can give ISOs in the millions. The camera will cost something like $30,000, but over time, that will change. For me, that is exciting because of my bat project trying to get better photos of bats. That would be an amazing tool. For me. Not necessarily the average photographer.
But also for me, that is how I think we need to look at gear. What can it do for me? For you? The answer will be specific to each of us. That will make your work better and easier as a photographer. Unfortunately, there is so much hype and marketing noise about photo gear that sometimes that very simple need is drowned out.