When I decided to use only my 45-years-old Minolta MC 1.7/55 in February I had only one basic idea: I wanted to get out of my comfort zone because I know that I improve my skills much faster in anything if I can’t rely on my routines. And I guess I was also curious how I would fare without all the fancy gear I normally use.
During the project I tried to take pictures everyday and I also created additional challenges for myself: One day I only allowed myself to take 5 pictures and on another I had to photograph in conditions I had little experience in.
1. It was much easier than I anticipated
My idea was that being limited to just one lens would be force me out of my comfort zone because of the technical limitations that come with just one old prime.
I was wrong about that.
I am astonished how far I got with just one normal lens. There were maybe two or three moments when I felt that I lost a picture because all I had was the Minolta. Every other time I managed to work around it’s limitations and there was little to no temptation to break my own rules.
For me this experiment has put the importance of gear for my photography into another perspective: To take pictures I am very happy with I need very little gear. Sharpness is also of little importance: Even that 45-years-old Minolta is good enough for my every need. So gear only really matters for my photography when I want to capture more extreme situations and want to improve on the less important details.
2. Gear distracts me from photography
I usually think about gear a lot and this blog is a symptom of that. I always tell myself that photo gear is more or less a separate hobby from photography for me. After this month I am not that sure about that. My mental capabilities and time are limited like anybody else’s. So any time and thought I invest in gear is lost to other courses like improving my photographic skills.
Through this project I turned my focus away from the gear and on my photographic skills. Through the challenges I experienced situations I would have otherwise judged uninteresting. In effect the images I took in February are much more diverse than in any other month. I am glad I captured them and they also gave me the confidence to shoot more often in less ideal situations.
The experience was at times strenuous. Out of my comfort zone I failed on several occasions to come up with a decent picture. Overall though I found it a very rewarding experience. The time I invested in the project and not in gear was very well spent.
So in the future I would like to spend less time with gear and more with photography. If you are a regular reader of this blog: Don’t worry I won’t stop doing my reviews, In the end I enjoy doing those. But I would like to dedicate some of the time I usually spend with gear to grow my photographic skills and make new experiences.
3. I should do more projects
As a hobbyist I am in a luxurious situation: I can photograph whatever I want, free from any external demands. Now the question is: What kind of pictures do I want to take? Over time I have found that I enjoy nature photography the most so over time I have built my routines around it: I try to catch sunrise or sunset and follow my usual paths which I know very well with all their photo opportunities.
Now this was the first time I actually realized a project and I found that it did something for me: It gave me a reasons to identify my routines and push beyond them to create pictures I hadn’t created before. And that was more rewarding than just doing the same stuff over and over.
I think the project was very important for me because it gave me a goal which I could follow and created some kind of accountability. I also got quite positive feedback from it and I inspired a few people to start something similar. So in the future I will try to do other projects. Those will most likely be less gear related and a bit more focused than this one.
This project has told me a lot and I can only recommend to anyone to give a similar project or any project a try. Sometimes it pays off to shake up your routines a bit.