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Everywhere I go, I see more and more photographers lugging massive amounts of state of the art equipment. It looks impressive, sometimes even intimidating , especially when they use those long, white telezooms all the time , or when they bring out the studio strobes. But here is the thing, if you are curious enough to reach out to these photographers, as in go talk to them, ask for their names and websites, you will find, with a certain dose of surprise, that their portfolios are not always up to their equipment so to speak. I’m not saying, in any way that anyone who is carrying around tons of glass and pro bodies is a bad photographer. On the contrary. I just think there are a lot of folks out there, who are trying to live the “pro- life” by making huge investments in gear and expecting too much from those investments.
I genuinely believe that the less gear you have to use when working, , the better. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t own the right gear and everything else you need. I believe that any self- respecting photographer should have absolutely everything they need in their arsenal, and they should also have the skills and experience required to master those tools.
Many of you might not believe it, but the less tools you have to do the job, the better job you will do. The answer to the question why is very simple. You simply have to push yourself harder. Relying on the magnificent tools that we have available for us today has made us lazy, it has numbed our creativity and has made us depend on them too much. No, I’m not saying that if the job requires three lights you should only use two, or if you’re shooting in a really dark location you should leave your 50 mm f1.4 at home. No, I’m saying I have a lot of respect for the people who don’t complain about not having the right gear and who create stunning images with a phone or a compact camera. We have a lot to learn from them , and that goes especially for our personal work, or even the photos we take on vacations . A friend of mine recently went to France on vacation and besides the already large suitcases full of clothes and other necessary items, he thought it’d be a good idea to carry along his D3s with the “holy trinity”. After all, France is indeed very photogenic and you wouldn’t want to miss anything if went there. The irony comes from the fact that about 70% of the photos were taken with a small compact camera, and I have to say, after a little editing in Lightroom, they came out looking very good.
This need to buy a lot of stuff actually determines us to do complicate our workflow. You say you need three f2.8 lenses to get the job done? I say there are photographers who shoot weddings for five figures using only a standard 24-70 f2.8. You think you need six 1000w strobes in your studio? I say go check out what guys like Zack Arias can do with a single light source. And the list could go on.
Once again, I honestly don’t believe you should cut down any gear you really need. After all, we make a living from satisfying our clients. I just think photographers should pay more attention to what they can really do , as creatives, rather than what their gear can do for them. The results might be surprising. Remember, less is more and it’s one of the lessons I’ve learned the hard way.
Image credit: djedzura / 123RF Stock Photo