A quick tour through your favorite photography blogs and Youtube channels can leave you inundated with the latest gear announcements, reviews, and spec speculations (that wasn’t a stutter). If you’re not careful, you can find your gear lust inflamed yet again and your once and still-capable gear will begin to seem less worthy. The truth is, your gear is a consistent commodity. You, the photographer, are a far more transient in nature.

And yet, we cannot deny the impact of superior and more versatile gear. Erik Walstrom tackles the question “Does gear matter?” by asking photographers this question and then taking a deeper dive into why gear dominates our thoughts, conversations, and finally why it does matter.

[REWIND: How to Pose a Large Group in 6 Minutes]

“Gear matters, just don’t expect it to replace a solid foundation in photography.”

We debate endlessly on the importance of our gear; often citing our intently crafted list of must-haves in order to justify its worth. However, deep down we know that without our skill, our vision, and our ambition, every camera is nothing more than a misshapen and overpriced paperweight.

When we cull our images and we can tell when a different sensor or faster aperture would have been beneficial. But we also see the images where our composition was poor, our timing was off and we misread the moment, perhaps causing us to discard hundreds of shots. If we’re honest, we have to acknowledge that our skill needs to live up the specs we so often salivate over.

“Gear is a means to an end.”

If you were to set your camera down in a room and leave it undisturbed for a year, it would still function the same as the day you left it. But you, you would be a different person, a different photographer, whose skill would have certainly stagnated, if not substantially regressed. Your instincts would be dull, your navigation of the menus would be clumsy, and the confidence in your ability to “get the shot” would be weakened or perhaps gone. Your gear matters, just not as much as you.