If you are a fan of Dr. Franklin’s writings, you’ll know that criterion he used to advise to do this – you had to do it according to your cloth.
It was an analogy for those who would consume more than they could afford to – or who wished to give that impression to others. Indeed, it was advice not to give that impression to themselves either. And it applies to photography as much as to general life. Consider:
a. You have limited resources available to you for photography – resources of money, time, talent, patience, assistance of others, etc. These are drawn away from what would otherwise support other aspects of your life – your housing, food, clothing, transportation, medical care, education, etc. Draw too much and something suffers. Draw at the wrong time and no future replacement may be possible.
b. Your resources must do something. The money you spend on food nourishes you and drives you though your day. Your clothing money produces warmth and decency. Likewise with your housing and medical expenditures.
What does your photography return to you? What are your goals?
Be honest. If you are a working, paid professional you can set out an Excel spreadsheet of this question and see precisely what went out and what came in. If you are a wise person you’ll do just that. If you are a semi-pro, you may be forgiven for being semi-wise. If you aren’t paid at all for taking or making pictures you need to up the wisdom again and make sure that you understand just how much you are spending away. Because away is where it goes.
In short, if it is all spend and no receive, spend no more than you can decently afford.
Know your cloth.
c. The trade will always try to sell you more than you need, for more than you need to pay.
Don’t start up in anger – they are not monsters. They need to receive money as much as you do, and you are who they receive it from. Your best defence is to know precisely how little you need to give to achieve your goals. This is not a matter of squeezing each penny and chiseling each shop assistant – it is a case of knowing how to do the job you set out to do with an elegant minimalism.
Know your fashion.
d. Deal with those who will sell what you need – not sell you what they want you to buy. When you are in someone’s shop you are there for you, not them. You needn’t be arrogant or grasping – just steer your own course decently and civilly. A good retailer will be delighted to cooperate with you.
Know your tailor.