I had everything I ever needed, all the dream gear: Broncolor lighting, the latest professional Canon cameras, and all the fastest Canon lenses. I had the latest Apple laptop, C-stands, tripods; I had it all, and at the time it was good. So why did I decide to get rid of everything after only a few years?
I used all my gear, I used it all the time. Everything I purchased I needed, or so I thought. I would do a studio photo shoot every weekend for personal work, and client work throughout the week. I got to a point where purchasing everything would be cheaper instead of renting. So over time I purchased all the gear I could ever need.
The problem was and wasn’t the gear, ironically. Using the gear made my life easier, I had a variety of lighting setups I would use. My clients loved my work and paid me for my time.
But slowly I lost passion for the work my clients booked me for. The work I was doing wasn’t fulfilling my soul. It was time to change things up. I made the business decision to drop all my fashion work. As a result, my personal style changed. I had a lot of gear, and that gear wasn’t making me happy. I wanted to simplify my life, to do that required letting go.
I found minimalism, which isn’t for everyone. But for me, it was exactly what I needed at the time. I stopped using all my gear and came up with a photography process and minimal gear list.
- Portable (only use what I could carry)
- Anywhere (be able to take a photo anywhere)
- Anything (be able to take a photo of anything)
- Available light (no lighting gear)
- Minimal (one camera, one lens, one film/preset)
- Identifiable (have a consistent style)
- One camera (Leica M)
- One lens (50mm Summilux)
- One film/preset (Kodak Tri-X 400)
- ND filter (no tripod)
These are my limitations and guidelines to my process and style. With these limitations, it forces me to be more creative.
Because I limited my gear and process I began to feel freer. I didn’t have to make gear choices anymore. No more what lens should I use? I only had a 50mm. I only had one camera. I can only photograph with the available surrounding light. I no longer had the option to manipulate the lighting. At first, this was very hard, but over time my process influenced and changed my style. As a result, it became freeing.
In minimizing my gear, I have found happiness. Do you use all your gear? Does it bring you happiness, or could you also benefit from a little downgrading yourself?
About the author: A.B Watson is a New Zealand photographer based in Auckland. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. To see more of his work, head over to his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram. This post was also published here.