One Year, One Lens: Top 25 Photos

One year, one lens. At the beginning of 2015, I purchased my dream lens: a Canon L Series 24mm 1.4. For those who don’t know what that means, basically it’s a wide angle fixed lens–no zooming in or out. The distance you see through the lens can’t be changed.

Some people consider this a “risky” lens, because it causes some distortion, it is hard to crop out undesirable elements from the edges of a scene, and in order to get a close up of something, you have to get really close. 

I knew these “risks” going in, and I was afraid that if I didn’t go all in, I might give up on the lens before I had a chance to bond with it. I also wanted to become a better photographer, and I know that in anything, the more restrictions you have, the more you are challenged. And the less on-the-spot decisions you have to make! This is why I wanted a fixed lens. Zoom lenses offer too many choices, especially for someone like me who is a terrible multi-tasker. Shooting scenes I do not control, in manual mode, is enough multi-tasking for me! I don’t need to have to decide the focal length too.

There are other benefits to a fixed lens, but the simplicity of it is what appealed to me most. Plus, I wanted to challenge myself to get up and move! I liked the idea of having to get close to my subject if I wanted a close shot. I mean…that only makes sense, right? I didn’t want to just sit back and observe from a safe distance. I wanted to have to feel uncomfortable at times. Because we should all feel that way occasionally.

And so in order to bond with this risky lens, I sold my other lenses and committed to not buy another lens before the end of the year (which was pretty easy to do, because…I mean…money!!!)

So what did I learn through this year of only using one lens? Well I learned a lot of things:

  • I learned that minimal equipment isn’t a hindrance to photography–it’s an asset.
  • I didn’t have to worry about lugging around multiple lenses or missing something in the middle of changing lenses.
  • I didn’t have to wonder what that shot would have looked like if I had used my 35mm instead, because I didn’t have a 35mm.
  • I learned that lack of equipment is never an excuse for poor photographs,
  • And that moving around is always a good idea.
  • I became not only content with my one camera and one lens but incredibly happy with it!
  • If I found myself in an artistic slump, I couldn’t be tempted to resort to buying something to make me feel better, because that wasn’t an option.
  • And, perhaps most importantly, I became so familiar with my 24mm that I had a pretty good idea of what I would see in the viewfinder before I even put up my camera to my eye. And so I could often anticipate where I would need to move to get the shot I envisioned!

The following are my Top 25 Photographs from my One Year, One Lens. I think you’ll find that you can convey context, details, emotions, and story with just one lens.

Oh. One more thing. I arranged these images with a specific pattern in mind. Can you figure it out? Hint: It has nothing to do with my order of favorites.

Short Story: First Snow

Our first snow in two years! The only one NOT thrilled is the cat. Right now we are watching White Christmas, and Shawn is baking cookies. There are also bins overflowing with clean (and dirty) laundry, and the living room is a hot mess of toys and Christmas books and muddy footprints. But it's all good; because it's snowing, and there are fresh baked cookies, and White Christmas is the best Christmas movie ever.


The Christmas Tree Thing

The first year we moved back to America, we drove to the grocery store to get our Christmas tree. Quinn was only a few weeks old, it was my first time to leave the house, and I don't think I even got out of the car. Our second Christmas here we ventured into the  Oregonian mountains with friends to find a tree. It was a half-day excursion, and we had lots of fun.

Last year we weren't around, so we made a tree out of driftwood. We still have it. It's pretty neat.This year, we opted for something in between the forest adventure and the grocery store. We went to Bob's U-Cut Tree Farm. Apparently people grab the best ones around Thanksgiving, because there wasn't much to choose from. But we found one that seemed to work. It's probably too short, and it's definitely crooked, but the kids think it's beautiful. And we did have fun.