Regular readers will know that not so long ago, I had well over 50 cameras and predominantly shot film over digital.
All of these seek to simplify photography down to its essentials.
The underlying philosophy can be summed in one word. Enough.
Let’s expand with some examples.
Using one camera at a time, is enough.
I don’t need the confusion of which camera to take out of my bag for which shot, and trying to remember the unique characteristics and quirks of using each one in quick succession.
Taking one lens out with you at a time is enough (if the camera even has interchangeable lenses).
Again, if you have three lenses of different focal lengths with you, you’re likely trying to visualise compositions that will work at all three focal lengths at the same time. And, paralysed with indecision and a scattered focus, end up capturing none of them very well.
Having half a dozen lenses in total is enough.
After following the classic rookie path of thinking I needed at least one lens in every focal length from 20mm to 200mm, ultimately I found I only really need a wide, normal and tele. Even if I had just one 35mm, or one 50mm, or one 135mm, I’d still be able to make plenty of shots I was pleased with.
What helped me hugely with getting to this point was focusing on a couple of mounts – M42 and Pentax K. I really didn’t need a 50mm lens in six different mounts that all perform 95% the same.
10MP is enough.
In fact that just happens to be the spec of my Pentax Q, the highest MP of any of my digitals, using my favoured 3:2 aspect ratio (it’s 12MP at 4:3). The Ricohs I use are less than that (9MP at 3:2), and I have a 6MP Samsung DSLR that is very capable of amazing photographs too. I don’t need the initial expense, huge files and unnecessary (to me) capabilities of even 16MP, let alone anything above.
Shooting JPEGs is enough.
Again this is part of my evolution towards zero processing. The cameras I use most now produce JPEG files I’m very happy with, and that need very little (if any) post processing. Because I’m able to make good enough (for me) images this way, I don’t need the extra workflow, file size or terrifyingly infinite processing options of RAW.
One colour choice is enough.
This might change depending on where you’re going and what you’re planning to photographs, but when we stick to one colour choice (which might be black and white, or a colour profile you’ve set up in camera, or of course a certain b/w or colour film), it makes it so much easier to find the compositions that are going to work best with that colour choice.
Our vision – and our thinking – then becomes naturally optimised towards that selection, and you escape situations where you can’t decide whether to shoot the scene before you in b/w, muted colour, natural colour, vibrant colour, or via one of 50 available settings. Just pick one at a time and get to know it inside out. It’s enough.
Once we realise how much is enough, we save ourselves the anguish of forever chasing more.
This measure of enough is different for each of us.
For you, enough might mean one 6MP compact digital camera with a fixed lens. It might mean a 60 year old rangefinder with two lenses, one choice of colour film and one choice of b/w. It might mean having both, for different occasions.
Whatever works for you.
The point is finding what’s enough, and putting an end to that infinite quest for more cameras, lens, features, presets and whatever else, that gets in the way of the essentials – getting out there with a camera you enjoy using, making picture you’re proud of.
What does enough look like for you and your photography?
Please let us know in the comments below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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