Todays post is more of an opportunity for me to share one of the many revelations I’ve had over the years as a professional photographer and now teacher. There’s been a fair few but this one was a complete game changer for me. I’m not suggesting for a moment that this will be advantageous to all of you that shoot commercially, but for those that simply enjoy photography then you’ll get great gains from it.
For many years I shot weddings and portraits for a living, and landscapes for my personal work. Which over time led to a great deal of G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), every time I went on the internet there was always someone telling me I needed either this lens, body, or fancy accessory in order to make my images better. So in my quest for market dominance I’d buy it all.
Now this in itself created a few problems;
- Cost a fortune
- Weighed a ton
- Gave me “Paralysis by Analysis”
It seems you can have too much of a good thing. I’d notice it most before a wedding shoot really, where I would literally spend days thinking about which lenses to take, coupled with what flashes, which tripod, what reflector, and don’t even get me started with the soft boxes and diffusers! It was a nightmare, and one that I couldn’t even carry out of the door let alone prance around a wedding venue with. Something had to change.
I was watching a set of films featuring the most amazing Alex Webb, as he wanders around Seoul (here) with his one camera and one lens set up, when it struck me. This guy has complete freedom, he doesn’t have any of the problems I was having and his images were, and continue to be, spectacular. (Every photographer should have a copy of “The Suffering of Light”, it’s mind-blowing work)
I needed some of that! I needed to stop being so focused on the gear and switch my attention to the image, my use of the camera needed to be instinctive, becoming second nature, I needed to almost forget I was using a camera, if that makes any sense.
So I decided to sell everything and follow Alex’s example for a whole year. That was 8 years ago, and I’m still using the same set up today. It has given me so much freedom, I’m no longer carrying tons of heavy gear around, just one small body and a 35mm lens, I’ve saved a heck of a lot of money, I now just pick up my camera and go, and probably most important … I never miss a shot because I’m fumbling around in my bag swapping lenses out. I’ve shot entire weddings using just a 35mm lens, same with portraits and landscapes. I can’t recommend it enough. Even if you only choose to use try this for your personal work you’ll see enormous value in it.