It took me a while to figure it out but books will make you a better photographer than gear.
Since 2008 I have been buying new gear, digital cameras, lenses, analog cameras, film, filters, flashes, more filters, more lenses, upgrade of it all, repeat. I was teaching myself with tutorials and technical booklets on how to use gear. I reached the point where I knew a lot about the technique itself but I felt embarrassed as I couldn’t handle conversations with some of my friends which studied photography as an art in institutions. They were talking about Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Alfred Stieglitz, etc. Photographers that I had no clue who they were but were described as inspirational.
I understood I had to take my study of photography a step further, get some offline knowledge. I wasn’t going to study photography in an academic style in art schools or whatsoever. I was going to study it by myself, and this is how I got myself my very first photography book:
This book started to change my mindset about photography being a technique over an art and also started my photography book collection. There was more to photography than just the technical aspect, there is a conceptual aspect, composition rules, photography history, etc. I eventually got stunned when I learnt that Henri Cartier-Bresson nearly always used a Leica 35 mm rangefinder camera fitted with a normal 50 mm lens. I understood gear and technique wasn’t it all and that there was so much to learn about the thoughts process of the masters of photography.
I can’t recommend enough to start buying books instead of gear. If I could speak to my-20-years-old-self, I would definitely start with giving me this advice! This is by far the best investment you can make as a photographer to get inspired and educated. Also, the more books I was reading, the less gear I was buying. I probably found a cure for G.A.S (Gear Acquisition Syndrome).