Defining A New Normal In Photography

We generally define what’s normal by what we do most often.

Three years ago, for me a normal photowalk involved loading up one of my Contax film cameras plus an M42 lens with colour Fuji Superia 100 film, and photographing flowers, decaying doors and rusting gates.

Today, normal is using a digital compact like my Lumix LX3 or Ricoh GRD III to shoot contrasty black and white shoots inside and around ancient churches.


Three years ago, my processing workflow was taking the film to be developed at my local Asda photo lab, then uploading the best of their CD scans to my Flickr. For the occasional digital shots I wrestled rather unhappily with LightRoom and a hundred and one “film emulation” presets, found I didn’t much like any of them, and wondered where the last three hours of evening had gone. Again.

Today, I mostly shoot with cameras that can either make pictures I love straight out of camera, or with a subtle 13 second tweak in Snapseed. My LightRoom subscription ended months ago and I haven’t thought twice about it. In the evenings my computer time is mostly writing new posts for 35hunter, or just unplugging altogether and enjoying a photography book.

Just two years ago, normal was owning 17 M42 lenses, even though at least 12 were all 50mm. Additional lenses in other mounts (Contax/Yashica and Pentax K) also lined my overcrowded shelves.

Today, I have four M42 lens, and one of those I’m debating selling. With none in other mounts. Using a select few digital compacts with fixed lenses has become my normal.


Everything evolves, and we needn’t be afraid that our photography will evolve too.

Each day we incrementally redefine what “normal” means, not just with our photography, but the rest of our lives too, just by moving ever closer toward what we love best.

What’s normal for you these days? How would you like to redefine your photography normal?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below (Remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.

11 thoughts on “Defining A New Normal In Photography”

  1. You have pushed through your explore/experiment phase (with gear) and are now in your “let’s just make photographs” phase. I’m working on getting there myself! I’m starting to grow bored of Operation Thin the Herd and just want to get on with using my forever gear.

    1. I’ve been there Jim, and I currently have a small box of the final few bits to sell, but am wondering whether to just donate to a charity shop. My cameras now all fit on one shelf (approx 40x20cm) and I’m very happy with that.

      I love that “forever gear” phrase.

  2. Dan, I have written this a number of times but it just isn’t happening. I’d like to get back to daily photography with even one photo being my achievement for the day. When I was able to do a daily hour walk I took my camera with me everyday and took photos of which many are in my artist journals. I will try to begin again today. xoxo susanJOY

      1. Dan, You and I do the same thing attaching tasks to one another and when I mentioned about not doing my photography daily I realised I didn’t have my prompt card in my dailies box. Now I do and have been faithfully taking at least one photo a day. I was really despondent there for a while about it until I realised how much changes in my home each day, each week, each month. THere is much more going on here than I ever realised and so enjoying seeing it in my photos xoxo susanJOY

      2. Yes, stacking habits I think I used to call it.

        One excellent purpose of photography is to document changes over time, of ourselves, our homes, our towns and more.

  3. My current normal:
    (1) No more “photo walks”, just shooting festivals and other events. I have a lot more fun when I am somewhere with a lot of obvious photo opportunities. Randomly looking for a possible nice picture – as I did for a while with my phone – annoys me nowadays.
    (2) After a few weeks with the vintage X100 I know that this kind of camera is perfect for me, and for what I want to do. No need to experiment with other cameras, phones or film. Whenever this X100 breaks, I’ll just replace it with another one from the X100 series.
    (3) Struggling with the “sharing” aspect (Tumblr, Instagram, EyeEm, blogging, etc.) for years, I feel that it’s taking all the fun out of my photography. So I’m done with that. I have a new Flickr account, and I’ll just post any new series there. Mainly for extra personal storage, and as an easy option to refer the few people who still want to see my photos.

    1. Interesting developments Robert…

      (1) Is this down to expectations I wonder? If you’re going on a walk expecting to be able to make say a dozen photos and there aren’t many things worth photographing, then I can see that would be frustrating. I try (it doesn’t always work!) to just walk for the sake of walking sometimes, with a camera in my bag or on my wrist in case there is a photo opportunity. But yes it makes sense to go to places with a higher chance of photo action, if you are going out specifically for that.

      (2) Brilliant to hear that you’ve found a camera that suits you so well!

      (3) There’s an advertising slogan in the UK for gambling addiction awareness – When the fun stops, stop. I think it’s a good yardstick for any activity we do for enjoyment. I’m still a fan of Flickr and how it makes it easy to archive photos, access different sizes to share on blogs posts etc, and nurture your own “portfolio”.

  4. Dan, I am also exploring minimalism and trying to trim down on things owned. I have a bunch (read many) cameras and lenses in various formats, both film and digital, and am on a constant quest to define my gear pack that I am most happy with. I churn quite a lot, but recently slowed down due to other life obligations.

    I stumbled across your blog recently and avidly read many of your posts. I feel very close to your philosophy and you inspire me to be happy with less. Love your photos, they match very well with the posts and your style of writing.

    1. Alex, many thanks for your comments, and I’m very pleased to hear you’re getting something from reading 35hunter.

      There does seem to be a growing movement of photographers who a couple of years were stockpiling cameras relentlessly, and now realise we can only use one at a time. Plus the more we use, the more we have to try to remember about the controls and quirks of each one, which interrupts the flow of the experience.

      If you read my very recent post you’ll see my collection is getting ever smaller!

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