Just let it go…

Itchen Navigation, Hampshire. Photograph made with a Panasonic LX3.

If you spend any time reading the mainstream photographic press, you’ll quickly realise that they are on a mission to tempt you into buying as much gear as possible. No great revelation there – they have advertisers to please, after all. The line they usually take is to play on fears of ‘missing the shot’. If you don’t have a bag full of lenses to cover every possible shooting situation, a bunch of filters, reflectors, flash, diffusers, etc., etc., you will end up being unable to take that killer shot which will win competitions, make you a ton of money and secure your place in history…. OK, perhaps I’m exaggerating just a tiny bit there.

Obviously, ‘The Gear’ is a big aspect of photography but can you have too much? Going back to basics and shooting with a limited number of focal lengths – maybe even without filters – is a great spur to creativity as well as being an excellent way of learning. With a lot of gear the danger is that you end up spending far too long deciding which lens is best or which filters to use rather than assessing the scene to see if you can make a workable composition with the equipment you happen to have with you. By spending time thinking through the design of an image you will almost certainly ending up making a better photograph than if you were to spend that same time trying to decide whether your 18-35mm zoom is sharper than your 24-70 and whether or not you really need to go wider than 24mm.

And there is another point. Sometimes, you can be too concerned with photography and totally miss the enjoyment of simply being there. If you don’t have the right equipment to make a certain image, just let it go. Chances are, there will be a much better one just around the corner that you can take. And, even if there isn’t, you can simply enjoy being out in a great location. So don’t worry about having ‘all the gear’. Make the best of the gear you do have and don’t forget to take time out from photography to relax and take in the sights, sounds and smells of where you happen to be.

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6 Responses to Just let it go…

  1. Pingback: Musings on: the problem with multi-tasking | mikegreenimages

  2. Mike Green says:

    Your last paragraph summarises, in fewer words, the primary point of my near-coincident blog posting…. Needless to say, I agree wholeheartedly with the above!


  3. steve france says:

    I agree totally. I regulary pop down to whsmith’s and review the magazines. I never buy them (apart from Professional Photographer and Black and White photographer every now and again lol) and just looking through, the content is so superficial, and well.. boring. Its the same old content time and time again.
    In the field, I agree to. Having now become 100% large format, I’m even more aware of the processes involved before even getting the camera out, let alone firing the shutter. Im rather embarassed to say that back in the 35mm digital and even mf film days, I hadn’t quite respected and paid attention to the merits of ‘thinking through’ the image. Not just pointing the camera at the scene, job done, but to sit, reflect upon it, study it, and make all the decisions, aesthetically as well as techically. I think i was more inline with just the technicals.
    Now ive so slowed up its not just a slight turning around in my processes, its a transformation! My enjoyment is not just built upon the results, its in the application.. the journey to the end result.

    thanks Julian

  4. Yes, it’s strange how the equipment you use affects the approach taken. When I shoot with my DSLR, I can’t help but fire off shots without nearly as much thought as when I use my LF gear – and the results bear this out…

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Steve. It’s much appreciated!


  5. Phil Hemsley says:

    Well put! I own a Pentax digital SLR and just two lenses – 95% of my images are made with the 18-55mm ‘kit lens’, which is brilliantly made for it’s price… when I first got interested in photography 3 and half years ago I felt that I ‘needed’ to add a super wide angle lens to my kit, I once nearly had enough money to buy one but the car needed an expensive job doing on it… now I realise I was probably a victim of the magazine subscription a relative had given me as a Christmas present that year! Since I have stopped reading magazines after that first year, I no longer feel the ‘need’ for the super wide angle lens… I can stitch considered images together instead when I want to record that wider or taller view!

    The most important element for me is to spend time exploring, visualising, looking deeply into the wide or intimate landscapes, waiting for the moment that best describes my feelings about the subject matter – before grabbing the camera out and clicking the shutter button. A considered approach…. maybe the same reasons that I would like to have a try at large format photography one day for which all those things are a necessity.

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