Just One Lens

Just One Lens

I recently discovered The Visual Science Lab, and it has quickly become one of my favorite photography blogs. The author, Kirk Tuck, is an incredibly open-minded photographer that, unlike many of them, doesn't seem to have any sort of brand bias when it comes to photography gear. It's a refreshing mindset, and something I've been trying to get across to other photographers for many years. All cameras are good these days--shoot with what you like.

In one of his older posts, from May of 2012, he talks about taking a vacation with no gear other than a medium-format Hasselblad and two lenses. He made a number of interesting observations, but one that really resonated with me was this:

Finally, if you are shooting art for yourself you really only need one lens.  Not an all purpose lens but a lens you can believe in.  A lens that, when you look through it, makes everything look more exciting and more real.  A lens that matches the vision in your heart.  All the other lenses are bullshit.  They make them so professional photographers can do stuff the way clients want it.  Really.  If you don't get paid to do this stuff just narrow down and narrow down until you find a lens that makes your vision sing and then sell the rest.  You'll argue and you won't believe me but if you do it you'll be so much happier with your work five years from now.  Honestly.  It's the one thing I've learned chasing business and clients.  You compromise your vision.  One lens is all you need.  In fact more lenses just cloud everything up. 

When I bought my Leica, I could only afford one lens. It was a stretch to purchase in the first place, so I simply bought the best lens that I could afford at the time: a 35mm Zeiss Biogon f2. I had plans to expand my lens collection when I could afford to, but after shooting with the Zeiss for a few months I quickly realized that I didn't need to. I fell in love with the images I got from the Zeiss lens, and never felt that I was missing out on anything else. 

I will never stare at a scene and have to decide which lens would capture it best. This is the lens that I have, the lens that I love, and either I will get the shot or I won't. When you're shooting for yourself, you only have one person to please.  So you should do so with the equipment that speaks to you and don't worry about anything else.

I'm a broadcast engineer, photographer, and writer. 

email me: ah@thedrewbot.com