The majority of posts I write on 35hunter include some kind of suggestion (or sometimes more like a command!) to myself to reroute my photography path a little.
Hopefully sometimes that suggestion resonates with you too, encourages you to think about your approach differently, and make positive steps that end up with a happier photographer, making more rewarding photography.
This is one of those posts.
Broadly speaking, my photography output falls into three camps.
1. Family shots.
This is self-explanatory, photographs that document the lives and adventures of my nearest and dearest.
2. Intentional photography.
Images of objects and scenes I’ve found beautiful enough to want to capture and share. Sometimes 1 and 2 overlap.
3. Gear testing photography.
Images made purely to see if a piece of photography equipment works in a certain way, or indeed, if it works at all. The dozens of tedious test shots I’ve made of that same rusting padlock on our garden shed, for example.
I always have plenty of time and room for the first category.
The second is where I want my focus to be when I’m using a camera, but not making a family photo of some kind.
The third category is a place I’ve spent way too much time in the last six or seven years, when I could have made more photographs of the second type.
I realised with hindsight this was an unavoidable side-effect of me buying so many cameras and lenses, especially between 2012 and 2017 when I was shooting film.
Owning over 50 cameras, but knowing I hadn’t even used half of them, was not a place I enjoyed being.
So I started to find my way out.
But aside from the simple dislike of owning too much stuff and it not being used, what I didn’t realise for a long time with this accumulation of gear, was an unwanted side effect.
That is, every new camera or lens purchase was followed by a testing period, to check it worked.
So the first five, 10, 20 plus shots made with that new camera or lens were predominantly test shots.
Add this up over the dozens I bought and you have hundreds, perhaps thousands of photographs made purely to check whether something was working, with very little (if any) artistic intent or merit to them.
Once I’d moved away from 35mm film, and was focusing purely on digital – in conjunction with a major gear purge – thankfully this testing habit diminished greatly.
This year though, it crept in a little more again, with my One Month, One Camera project, and a few other cameras I’ve bought along the way.
So it’s time to kick the tedious testing to touch once more.
My newest (to me) two cameras are making a delightful double act in my eyes – A Pentax K100D and Pentax K-m.
Plus I mostly using just three lenses across the two cameras – a Pentax-A 50/1.7, Pentax-F 35-70mm, and a Pentax-DA 35/2.4.
But I’ve used each of the cameras and lenses enough now to know essentially what they’re capable of, so there’s no excuse for any more test shots.
After all, how many times can you shoot the same back yard photographs with yet another old camera you found for a few pounds in a car boot sale – or on the online car boot sale that is eBay – just to show it works?
Especially where the images are almost indistinguishable from those made of the same scene with 5/50/500 other near identical cameras you’ve tested?
This was what (too) much of 2013-16 was like for me.
Something I also did when I started to purge my gear was stop following a number of blogs that were doing much the same – making test shots with a new (to them) camera every time they went out.
I didn’t need the continual validation and encouragement!
So moving forward, I’m trying (again) to put that era of tedious test shots behind me, and get out more often to make something memorable with the cameras and lenses I love.
How about you? What proportion of your photographic output are test shots, and how much is intentional photography with gear you know and love?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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