Minimalist Street

One of the biggest problems photographers can encounter, and street photographers are no different, is something called equipment creep, also known as GAS, or Gear Acquisition Syndrome. This is essentially the desire to add additional lenses and other items of photograph equipment to your camera bag, or even purchase that latest camera model in the expectation that it will (quite possibly falsely) improve your photography. And I must admit, I occasionally suffer from GAS, and not after eating poached eggs on toast!

To help avoid this I try to follow a single rule in my street photography. The rule is simple really:

“One camera, one prime lens, auto mode and use that camera all the time.”

To date I’ve always found this very difficult to follow, usually breaking my own self-imposed rule by using my Panasonic Lumix G7 with a 45 – 150 mm zoom lens. Yes, one camera and one lens but it’s a zoom lens. And I also sometimes carry a 14 – 42 mm zoom lens as well. Why you might ask? Well, I guess it the fear of not being able to take “that” shot, missing something interesting because I didn’t have the right lens. Interestingly, by the time I’d changed lens the shot would probably have vanished.

However, there have been occasions when I used the Panasonic Lumix G7 with a single prime, or fixed lens, a 25 mm f1.14 Leica fixed lens, equivalent to a traditional standard 50 mm lens in 35 mm film photography terms. Other than setting the camera to auto mode, so-called Intelligent auto as far as my Panasonic Lumix G7 is concerned, that’s it, no more changes while out shooting. No fiddling, no changing settings, no chimping either (that’s checking the images in the field after you’ve taken them). Okay, there are a few other items in the camera bag, namely spare batteries and media cards, but those are allowed.

The experience of doing so is quite interesting. Firstly, it makes you actually work for your shots. You physically have to actually walk back and forth to frame the shot, rather than simply rotating that zoom lens. Overall, I feel it simplifies your photography, just having one camera and one lens, you find yourself thinking, how can I make this work? It takes away the choice of lens or focal lengths, it forces you to work with what you have in your hands and the scene in front of you. You need to get more creative, using your brain, yes actually thinking, planning shots, anticipating, thinking ahead, learning. About as simple as you can get in digital photography.

So, that’s what I’m going to try and do, dedicate myself to minimalist street photography, the challenge of one camera, one fixed lens and auto mode, for an entire year! I suspect it will be challenging at the very least, even immensely frustrating and no doubt with some moments of utter joy, perhaps all at the same time. Wish me luck. Hold on a moment. Perhaps I need to buy that new Fujifilm X100V camera first?

Copyright ©2022 Gary Buckham. All rights reserved.

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