According to Bengt Björkbom it was Christer Strömholm who once said "one camera, one lens, one film, one developer" and Bengt has written some nice stuff on that.
I really like the way that constraints can muster novel thinking. I have this long-term project: 36 photos. I go to a street with one roll of film and walk the length, my challenge is to make 36 pictures before leaving (it helps if there's a cafe!). Sometimes the challenge is to find 36 photos, sometimes to take only 36. It's always fun by the time I'm done.
One camera, one lens has great emancipatory potential from the burden of GAS. Those of us on a shoe-string will recognise this. But then most of my favourite photos were taken when I only owned one camera / lens. I still have more fun by leaving most stuff at home.
I've been shooting with one focal length (normal lens that is) since my mother put the first roll into Smena 8M and gave it to me, somewhere around 1991 IIRC, until acquiring wide(-ish) 37mm Mir 1b and borrowed 20mm Flektogon from a friend, both somewhere around 2002. Am I a better photographer because of a decade spent this way? Nope. I feel like some years were wasted, some good years, that could have been used wiser and some opportunities were lost and won't happen again. I haven't wrote a poorly illustrated blog post about being a "minimalist" for 20x longer, than the guy.
Some people with their TLRs use this approach through 99% of entire professional career. Is it liberating? I'd say it's normal: you just focus on your work, same kind of focus, as when tackling two lenses more in a bag. Missing some opportunities available only with wide angle lenses is a waste sometimes, but it's nothing to cry about. It's the photo, that matters, the story it carries within, the truth about human life an image tells. This guy didn't quite got it, still being focused on himself, his skills and style, his creativity and vision and paradoxically, his gear, cause the single camera and lens mattered for him more, than relentlessly expressing whatever his vision was.
In 2012 I've closed down my blogs just to have more time for photography, rather than writing. I got rid of a serious amount of unnecessary gear in 2013. Was it liberating? Nope, I've only liberated my shelves.
I adore mindfull minimalism and I love the shore, but this guy sounds like someone, who either is in his infancy, not serious, or seriously lost the plot - nothing bad either way, just nothing to write about, apart from "yupsie, I've learned a thing or two, cool exercise". The very fact, that this poor guy dropped 6 months of project because of being busy, simply tells it all - either the project or the author wasn't serious, or the project was done and he would gain nothing continuing it, or it wasn't important enough to pick it up and continue. So my final conclusion is the author wasn't quite honest about himself.
But on the other hand, I know this were well spent months. Thumbs up for the inspiration it gave me this way or another.
Last edited by q_x; 12-22-2013 at 11:33 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Use the Force, Luke!
while using one camera lens (developer paper film) &c for a year ( or a week or a month or 3 years ) might
help you become intimately familiar with the stuff that someone might
use to make a photograph ... if you don't have a direction, don't notice, observe or have a connection
to the world around you that you want to photograph it seems like a waste of effort.
cliveH, your teacher's story sort of sounded like the bauhaus theory of learning art ...
its best to have a well rounded education because in the end, whether you use a camera,
chisel, brush they are all the same and feed off eachother.
i can't imagine learning about photography with no knowledge of any of the other arts ..
2d, 3d, even digital arts ... its like writing a research paper without references ...
I think the one film, one camera, one developer, one paper idea is very useful for beginners. Photography is a language. To be able to communicate through it, you first need to learn basic words (camera/lens), then their nuances (film/ developer/paper), before you can speak fluently (a worthwhile print, which conveys your vision to the viewer).
Only had one camera for nearly a year. I have two lenses, but only use one of them - the wider. It wasn't a 'roughing it' ideology for making better pictures, it just ended up this way quite naturally.
It is commonly known that being good requires consistency, and at least in documentary style work or photojournalism, the most logical course begins with having a consistent optical output and frame size. Landscape photographers tend to follow this logic too.
However, a lot of art photographers working with traditional photography like to play with the medium and have what you might call 'kaleidoscopic vision' as a result. The 'final piece' becomes almost a collage of formats, which can be great, but the medium can become the message.
If you have lots of cameras and find yourself using them all, there's no point in punishing yourself, just learn how to edit your output into something cohesive! It's not rocket science.
'Cows are very fond of being photographed, and, unlike architecture, don't move.' - Oscar Wilde
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