You can take it as a challenge or a philosophy. During the past year I ditched out all my DSLR gear, including a Full frame camera and 6+ lenses. Instead I bought a compact camera with a fixed 35mm lens. At the beginning I’d regret to give up on all the versatility that my gear could offer, I had lenses ranging from 8mm to 300mm, flashes, filters, etc. After a year I can’t recommend enough to do it.
A cure to GAS Syndrome.
I used to buy a new lens every 6 month, I was always for the quest for the best optics, the widest aperture, the best sharpness. I was focused on technical aspects of photography. Always looking for the latest and greatest camera gear. I would spend countless hours on forums to compare gear. For the past year I focused on getting the best out of a simpler camera.
Simpler is better.
For the past year I experience simplicity. Selecting the aperture is on the lens ring, the speed and ISO on a wheel, exposure compensation on the other. Choose a camera that is simple to operate, so you can concentrate on your frame, composition and story telling instead of setting your gear. Having a simpler camera system has been a liberator.
I travel a lot, that’s how I spend most of my money. That’s the best investment one can do to themselves. You can buy things, you can buy gear, you can buy a house, what you will be left with will be a burden. Travelling and meeting new cultures expands your knowledge and make you a wiser a person. You realise nothing is all black or white (not 50 shades of grey though!). I used to travel with a backpack full of gear, heavy and expensive, a burden. I was always caring about security and I was anxious. The camera now fits in my jacket pocket and… I don’t need to bring an extra bag with this extra lens I’d never use.
By having a fixed focal lens your photography becomes consistent. All the photographs are shot with the same field of view, from your point of view. I also use preset in lightroom to add on this consistency, same colours, same sharpness, same everything. Consider your photography as a story, would you read a book of an inconsistent author?
Know your frame.
Shoot 35mm for a year and you will have it in mind, just as a retinal persistence. This makes you faster at analysing a situation and getting at the right spot as you know what is going to be and what is not going to be inside your frame. The use of a range finder is no longer a problem when you know you focal length.
Stop ‘Paralysis by Analysis’.
When you have many lenses, you have many choices. I was always wondering for 10+ minutes which lens to take before stepping out the door. This is what is called Paralysis by Analysis. This happens in so many situation, not only photography. From my point of view, the more choice you have, the worst one you can make. Having a single lens, not interchangeable, will give you one choice. One choice is freedom.
I realised how much I benefited from this assignment. I applied this challenge to other areas of my life and greatly reduced the amount of stuff I had. Having a simpler life style with fewer clothing, less technology, no television, no radio, no passive media, totally decluttered is the best thing you can do to your inspiration. Inspiration is not optimum when surrounded by objects of the past, it is optimum in the void.