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.