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I wanted to share a few thoughts I’ve been having lately. Lockdown here in Bangkok gave me way too much time to think about photography and ultimately my equipment. This led me to the point of scrutinizing my camera and lens choices. Are they good enough? Are they fast enough? Is it ‘cool’ enough?
People love cameras, way too much
Unfortunately, I think this is a common trail of thought for photographers these days. When we scroll our favorite social media platforms, new gear is definitely hard to avoid!
Cameras and lenses seem to be the driving factor behind so many photographers these days and honestly, I find that a little sad. Let me explain.
As the title says, photography should be all about the images we capture. The gear we use to create those images should be kind of irrelevant, shouldn’t it?
For example, if an image captures an amazing moment in time, a beautiful patch of light, or highlights an interesting subject, what does it matter what camera captured that image? In my opinion, it shouldn’t and doesn’t matter!
Are cameras a fashion?
I myself have been guilty of following this trend of the newest, ‘coolest’ cameras and it actually made me a worse photographer. It’s only now that I have kind of shrugged off all those camera fetishes that I have realised how much it actually affected my photography.
I had begun to put emphasis on shooting with that camera, chasing other lenses even to the point that I stopped shooting until I could get that next lens. The camera became a fashion and hobby in itself, which in turn pulled my attention away from the actual images I was taking.
This whole crazy camera world got to me so much that I sold all of my equipment, went back to the camera brand I knew best, and bought only two lenses that allowed me to shoot everything.
Now I have my favorite 50mm lens and a camera and that is all I need to get out into the world and take photographs that make me happy. In turn, shooting what makes me happy almost definitely results in better images.
The camera should get out of your way
That may have been a drastic measure to take, selling all my equipment in pursuit of a different camera but it basically highlighted to me that I had been doing it wrong for a couple of years.
You need a camera that gets out of your way. Your camera is merely a tool that helps you capture what your mind and your creativity is seeing in front of you. Your camera is not and shouldn’t be the first thing you think about when out taking pictures.
In my opinion, you shouldn’t be wondering if you need to change lenses or wondering if that new camera’s AF performance would have helped you capture a better image. If you are thinking about all these things then you’re almost always going to miss the moment, the light will fade or that interesting subject has hopped on their bike and driven away.
Using only one lens!
So to help on this mission of creating better images, I always like to head out and shoot with one camera and one lens. Almost always a 50mm. This allows me to really focus on what’s important.
The light, the composition, the moment, the emotion, the subject. All these things will add up to give me far better images than any number of new cameras and lenses could ever give me! Keeping my equipment minimal and forgetting about all the technology rubbish allows me to be in the moment, absorbing the wonderful world in front of me and looking for that perfect shot.
Ignore the hype
The camera industry is doing an amazing job at turning photographers’ attention onto their equipment and making them question everything they own. This is great for the camera industry building hype around their products, but not so great for photography.
I’d like to urge people to start thinking more about the images they produce rather than what they used to produce them. Photography is so much fun and such an awesome way to see and interact with the world around us. Stop letting cameras and lenses get in the way and start ‘seeing’ the world better.
Slow down and look around you, find that amazing light, and wait for the guy wearing an awesome outfit to walk into that light. Ignore that new shiny lens or camera because remember this.