I once heard a story, apocryphal I presume, about a photography teacher who divided his class into two groups. Both groups undertook the same course work and they were given the same project - namely, to produce some monochrome prints. However, he told the students in the first group that their grades would be based on a single piece of work, while the grades for those in the second groups would be solely based on the amount of work they produced - literally, its weight.
The students in the first group worked to produce a single print. They sought to make it perfect. They wanted to use the finest camera. They agonised over whether this should be a film or digital model. They compared camera specifications. They read all the available reviews from magazines. If they were to choose the traditional route, they then had to decide which film to use, what speed would be best and which had the finest resolution. Then came the problem of which developer to use. Here again, was a vast amount of literature advocating various approaches. Then there was the decision about what photographic paper would be best: surely fibre-based would be better than resin-coated, but what make, what surface texture?
And then there was the whole developer and processing thing to consider all over again. Archival processing would surely improve the end product and make the work perfect. On the other hand, perhaps they should have gone down the digital route. Here again, camera specifications come to the fore with sensor types, file formats and compression ratios. What computer to choose, what software? What printer, what paper and what ink set? Would uncertainty about permanence prove a disadvantage?
The questions kept on coming. Each question needed more research and each answer suggested a different approach that in turn gave rise to more questions and more research - and time was marching on. Having agonised about the perfect equipment and technique, there was so little time left to produce the perfect print on which the grade would be based. They ended up producing an average piece of work and they received an average grade.
In the second group, striving for perfection wasn't an issue. It was quantity that mattered. So the students started producing work - lots of it. They didn't dwell on cameras or materials or processes, they just got on with doing stuff. Their work got better and better, with larger quantity came better quality. In fact the quality of the work began to surpass that of the first group. At the end of the term, it far exceeded that of the students in the first group. Therefore, not only did they get a high grade for the sheer quantity of output, but they also achieved a high grade for the quality of the work.
Like many others, I read equipment reviews. I keep up with emerging technology (well, kind of). The nerdy side of my character loves to wallow in comparative tests, performance graphs and resolution charts. I stive for better equipment and materials. I have, in theory, the perfect equipment. All this perfectionist behaviour is reminiscent of the first group of students. This perfectionism leads to procrastination and then in turn to stagnation. However, I already have everything I need to produce quality work - I just need to get on with it.