Limitations can be good. They make you think a bit longer, a bit more creatively about what you need to accomplish. Limitations force you to be resourceful, to not only draw on the skills you currently possess but to acquire new skills that will assist you in some way.
For photographers, there are numerous self-imposed limitations that can significantly impact the creative process. One limitation that I’ve adopted is shooting film. Of course, many years ago, this wouldn’t have been considered a limitation at all — in the context of modern, however, using film is generally looked at as being slow and inefficient.
Those who hold this view aren’t really wrong, which is why I refer to shooting film as a self-imposed limitation. It’s a much slower process, but that’s the point. And for me, the pros heavily outweigh the cons.
Another common self-imposed limitation practised by photographers is the one camera, one lens setup.
With so many high-quality cameras and lenses on the market and more coming at a steady clip, why would anyone choose to ignore such awesome gear?
Why would anyone limit themselves to say using just one camera and one lens?
Here are 4 reasons why.
When you know one lens/focal length particularly well, it quickens the photo making process. Before you even bring the camera to your eye and look through the viewfinder, you already know how to frame the shot. You already know whether you’re too close or not close enough.
If you need to change camera settings, you can do so rapidly and without having to even look at the camera.
Familiarity breeds speed.
2. It’s Easy On Your Back
What’s the point in packing a bag full of gear? You’re probably going to return home and realize you didn’t use most of the stuff you took with you. All that “just in case” gear is weighing you down unnecessarily.
Whether you’re hiking a trail or walking city streets, you’ll enjoy the journey more when you’re not lugging around so much equipment.
Learn to get the shots you want with the camera/lens combo you have in hand. If you prefer a zoom lens, that’s fine. Just don’t burden yourself with gear you know you’re not going to use.
3. You Can Concentrate On Content
If you've got say one camera and one lens, well now you can put all your attention toward getting good shots. When you pack too much gear you’re always going to second guess yourself, wondering if you should pull out the 200mm for this shot, the 24mm for that shot.
When you’re using one lens, you look for shots to “fit” that lens. It’s an incredibly effective way of working.
4. Cohesion And Consistency
Sticking with a minimal setup will ultimately pave the way to creating images that are visually consistent and cohesive. Not that all your shots will look the same, rather they will exhibit certain aesthetic qualities — particularly in composition and framing — that will make your work easily recognizable as your own.
For some, the whole one lens, one camera thing is a temporary project — a challenge they take on for a week or a month. It is indeed a challenge given the wealth of gear we all have access to and lust over.
It’s also a challenge in terms of making the adjustment to seeing the world through a single focal length. There are sure to be times when another lens or a second body would be convenient.
But the ultimate challenge is using your creativity to overcome these limitations to become a better photographer than you were a month or a week ago.