Why Did Steve Jobs Wear The Same Outfit Every Day?
More on the X100V
(And what Steve Jobs’ wardrobe has to do with photography)
Warning — this will be a long and rambling article because I am not smart enough or articulate enough to express all these ideas in a short, succinct manner. But they are important so I will try.
I am nearing the end of my life. I have far fewer tomorrows than I do yesterdays — that means I have learned a thing or two.
But as much as I have learned, one of the things that was hardest for me to learn was to be content with what I had.
I lived in Japan for a short time and while there was exposed to Zen Buddhism. It was back then that I first became aware of the benefits of contentment.
Unfortunately, I am stubborn and even though I knew those benefits, I spent decades acquiring STUFF (including camera gear) just because I could.
During this time I learned a big secret. Whether it was my first Porsche or my first zoom lens with image stabilization; that a shiny new object only brings a moment of happiness. It wears off and sets a new normal that is impossible to deal with.
When the “new car smell” from the Porsche wears off, it ends up just being another car.
When that new zoom lens is now the older model because the manufacturer added slightly better IS, it ends up just being another lens.
You get the picture… (See what I did there?)
And when you have lots of STUFF you make it hard to find the best picture (substitute the word happiness for picture if you’re really following along.)
A well-established Buddhist teaching goes something like this…. “The man who has many keys, has many masters.”
That is a fancy way of saying the more stuff you have, the more it weighs you down.
Simplicity, minimalism, etc. this approach (although it may be counterintuitive) is actually the way to happiness.
It’s taken me way too long to figure this out. I am very guilty of pursuing STUFF for most of my life. But better late than never, right? I am now seeking to live a more deliberate, simple, life.
I’ll mention photography here but there’s more coming. In photography, we often buy new cameras and lenses because we think THAT will make our photographs better and therefore make us happier. It rarely works out that way. In fact, the more choices we have in our bag, the harder it is to be present in the moment we are trying to capture.
Fewer choices (especially when they are choices that circle around mundane things) means we have more attention to the important stuff.
Like Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein wore the same outfit nearly every day. Einstein bought several versions of the same grey suit because he didn’t want to waste brainpower on choosing an outfit each morning. Decades later, Steve Jobs and President Obama made the same decision.
For Steve Jobs, the black turtleneck was also a branding statement — and a uniform, but it mainly just let him concentrate 100% on things that were really important.
Jobs did the same thing when it came to the car he drove. He got a black Porsche 911 (eventually moving to a black SL55 Benz) every time he bought a new car. He stuck with something simple (considering his wealth he could have easily bought a new Bugatti Veyron every day) because it just made his life easier.
Imagine all that brain power. Imagine being Steve Jobs and having the ability to create one of the biggest companies in the world. You don’t want a second of that brain power wasted. So a simple uniform or the same car made sense.
It all boils down to this:
Happiness is found through contentment. And in case you weren’t paying attention, contentment means being happy with what you have. It means being careful about what possessions you let creep into your life. At the end of the day, I tell stories with cameras because it makes me happy. So contentment, happiness and photography are all intertwined. My continued exploration of the Fuji X100V reminds me this every day.
(One more thought about STUFF — when you die, your hearse will not be pulling a U-Haul!)
The X100V is a fixed lens camera. A 35mm EFL lens. By not having interchangeable lenses, it makes grabbing the camera and going to work that much easier. I don’t have to think about the gear. As much gear as I’ve owned and had access to, it mostly just got in my way. If you met me 30 years ago, you’d have marveled at how much gear I used to take into the field. As I’ve gotten older, I have shed almost all that gear and you know what? My photography has gotten better. I am able to put into practice David duChemin’s best-known quote; i.e., “Gear is good, vision is better.”
My love for the X100 comes from the fact that it’s the first camera to just completely disappear in my hand. I don’t even notice it. The pipeline between storyteller/photographer and execution is streamlined. There’s no stress. There’s no angst to upgrade or add on, etc. There’s just a simple camera, with one fixed focal length lens, that is always ready to go when I need it.
I love toy photography. I love it more now that I’ve re-discovered the X100V
I’ll close with this quote — “Happiness is self-contentedness.” — Aristotle
I hope you found something in this article helpful. And if you’ve been looking for permission to streamline your photo gear — or your life, I hereby offer it to you.
Remember, toys are joy.