Less time fiddling, more time looking

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Want to know something kooky? I use one camera - and I just own one lens (a Sony A7riii with a 35mm prime). I’m not shooting my twin-lens much these days because I moved to the boonies and don’t feel comfortable shipping my film to get processed (and I 86'ed myself from darkroom chemistry after two decades splashing around in the stuff). You’d think I’d be geared to the gills as a professional artist, but I intentionally keep things REALLY simple.

Ansel Adams said something like: "If you have fewer lenses you lessen your chances of choosing the wrong one." Having one lens means it’s the perfect choice every single time. Winning! You also internalize the focal length when you look through the same lens every day. So, when I see a lovely subject, I intuitively walk into position for the framing I want. I don't have to pick up the camera, look, rethink, and reposition. Overall, there’s less fiddling, less second guessing - and that leads to a lot more visual confidence. Basically, I don’t want to spend time thinking about my gear, you know? I want to spend time looking deeply and picking up on the energy of the scene, so I can make images filled with mood and emotional resonance. I feel like being truly present is the best thing I can do for my photography practice.

Camera companies tell you to buy multiple lenses (and new gear every 18 months), but if you hop on that bandwagon, you constantly feel awkward with your tools. If you're shooting specialty subjects you'll probably want a specialty tool or two. But if you're really honest with yourself and you know you’re not going to be doing espionage or shooting pro basketball, microbes, whales, explosions, or spreads for Architectural Digest where you need a tilt-shift lens…take a deep breath. The ads are trying to sell you confidence, but true confidence comes from familiarity. Familiarity is worth WAY more than fancy new gear, every day of the week. Photography doesn’t have to be super expensive or cumbersome. It’s all about vision. That’s free, lightweight, and you have the most updated version inside you all the time.