Minimalism in photography

For the last five years I have been trying to adapt a minimalist lifestyle. When I say trying, it is because minimalism is not a fixed goal. It is, to sound cliche, a state of mind. And the goal is not to own as little as possible, but to own just enough.
I also try to adapt this philosophy when it comes to photography. Both in the  amount of gear and in the actual images. But when it comes to photography, I find it harder to cut down to the bare minimum than it is with everything else.

Today I came across a little video by Belgian photographer Joris Hermans, who talks about how and why he keeps a minimalist mindset in photography. I think he has some great points and I will definitely try to keep them in mind.

Watch the video, and if you enjoy it, give Joris a like on YouTube or follow him on Instagram.

I hate getting a new camera

Since 2015 I have been shooting primarily with a Canon EOS 6D. Before that, I had a Canon EOS 60D.  Although these two cameras were VERY similar in terms of ergonomics, I remember a period of frustrations when I switched.

Most of all the frustration came from the small differences in button layout and the extra time I had to spend “just” to take a simple picture, but also from a more diffuse issue, the way I composed, the field of view I got from a specific lens and the differences in “quirks” between the two cameras. Most of this were because of the fact that the 6D were full frame.

After a while it were all forgotten and the 6D became my new favorite camera.
And what a camera. It was sharp, amazing in low light and built solid. I loved and used it for years, even though it were somewhat limited in some respects, like the fact that it only had 11 focus points and only one, the center point were really usable.

But these limitations made it a simple, no nonsense camera. I taught myself to get the most out of this camera and I love what I have been able to do with that camera.

Time to move on

The years passed and the camera tech developed at a fast pace. Several times I were tempted to switch to a Fuji X-Pro or X-T2/X-T3, but I wasn’t sure it would be able to replace my amazing 6D and it still served me well, so I kept fighting my GAS.

Then Canon released the EOS R. The temptation… I fought it for a while, but deep inside I knew I would buy one at some point. It seemed like the next logical and technological step for me to take.

A couple of weeks ago I finally took that step and bought the EOS R. And what a camera. It is extremely good at focusing, perhaps even better than that famous center point on the 6D, but on the entire screen. The image quality is amazing too, even at high ISO and it is packed with fancy features. 
I am certain that this is a camera that is going to serve me well for the next many years.

And yet, I am frustrated. All my muscle memory needs to be updated. The configuration of the camera needs to be tried and tested, to figure out which features I need and which button it should be assigned to. I no longer need to focus/recompose, I can just set the focus point where I want. But this is a new workflow for me and it is frustrating. The electronic viewfinder is really good, but in some situations it makes me feel a bit “detached” from the scene I am photographing. I don’t like that the EOS R is not always on like my 6D.

But still I like the EOS R and I know it is going to take me to a new level. I just hate the transition period.

The picture of Eddie at the top of this post were taken with my new EOS R.

Get off the high horse

Ok, I get it.

You only shoot with your Micro Four Thirds because it is the ultimate compact camera solution.

..or you only shoot with full frame cameras because small sensors suck.
..or you only shoot film because it is the only way to achieve that analog look.
..or you only use a wide angle lens when shooting in the streets because being up close is the only way to connect with your subject.
..or you never process your pictures in Lightroom or Photoshop because your pictures need to be authentic.
..or you only shoot in black and white because colors are taking away the pureness of a photograph.
..or you only shoot with primes because zoom lenses are filled with compromises.
..or you only shoot L-lenses because life is too short for inferior lenses.

I get it, but seriously, who cares?

It’s not like people are going to look at your pictures and say “Wow, best photograph in the world, just too bad it is taken with a zoom lens”. It doesn’t matter. Yes, of course the gear you use matters and you have to pick the gear that fits you best. But don’t try to make you choices the ultimate truth. It is not. It is purely your truth.

If you find a recipe that works for you, good for you. But that doesn’t give you the right to scoff at anybody else, just because they do something different from you or choose different gear.



The end result is what matters. The final picture, the work you have created is what counts. The gear you used or the approach you used to get the results you wanted doesn’t matter.

There is no need to think you are superior just because you think your way of producing photos is the only way. You are not superior. You’re a photographer who have found your voice. Good for you. But you have to realize that other photographers will find their voice using other gear or other ways.

Why are you posting pictures?

I recently wondered “Why am I posting pictures at all?” It does not make me rich. Or famous. So why bother?

I guess part of the answer is a need to be recognized. But the sad truth is that the Internet is flooded with pictures and the chance that mine would stand out is quite small, no matter how hard I try. So why bother?

Another part of the answer is that photography is about creating. And if you create you want the stuff you create to be “used”. If not, why bother? Creating without purpose doesn’t really make sense.

So, even though posting pictures to this site, or social medias doesn’t make me rich and famous, it does serve a purpose. To keep my desire to create alive.

Keep it simple

A couple of weeks ago I described how I felt that even if you take the minimalist approach, sometimes a little is just not enough.
Since then I have been thinking a lot about what the problem was, and how to move on.

I think I have reached the conclusion that what I really want actually is some restrictions and I think it comes from a desire to kinda go back to the roots.
This might be a good place to mention that in no way am I a seasoned photographer with 25+ years of experience. Far from it.
And that isn’t really the point either.

By going back to the roots I mean returning to the time when I took pictures because I thought it was fun. Back when I didn’t spent all my times thinking about which gear to bring along and what to use it for.

In software development we have an acronym (developers LOVE acronyms) “K.I.S.S.”. It stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. It is a way to remind yourself that even though you COULD make a fantastic software solution with all sorts of bells and whistles, sometimes it is better to just keep the solution simple.
This was actually the mindset I had recently, when going out to take pictures with only my two pancake lenses, the Canon 24mm f/2.8 and the Canon 40mm f/2.8. But perhaps two pancakes is still one too many?
Last year I mainly used my Sigma 30mm lens but since then I have added a 24mm lens, a 40mm lens and a 50mm lens.
Now I end up spending a lot of time switching between these lenses and I have lost that intuitive sense of knowing exactly how my framing will be, before taken the camera viewfinder to my eye.

But what to do?

I will have to take a decision as to what lens I will consider my “main” lens. The lens that fits my needs best. In a way I think this is my 24mm pancake that I have been using a lot recently, but my Sigma 30 is also quite special.

Yesterday a friend came by. He had just bought a Canon 18-135mm lens. To him that represented the perfect lens, as he were able to capture everything he wanted, without having to change lens.
That’s another way to look at it and in a way I do the same when I make a safe choice and puts on the Tamron 17-50mm zoom lens.

I think it is time to go back to that feeling of knowing my lens and its framing again. Perhaps I should try each of them exclusively for a while, to try and get a feeling of which lens suits me the best, before deciding on “The One.”

 

(This post was originally written i danish.)

 

 

A lesser Photographer Reviewed

Photographer CJ Chilvers has just published an eBook named just like the amazing blog he is running, A Lesser Photographer

For those who do not know this blog, here’s the basics:
More gear is not the way to get better pictures. Being more adventurous and creative is.

If you haven’t been reading the blog, this book is a great starting point for getting into his way of thinking.
The book is basically built on the many blog posts CJ Chilvers has published in the past. In a way this is a good thing, as many of the things he’s been writing about have some good take away points. But it is also a bit drawback for the people who already dig his philosophy.
Still, I do not feel cheated. The book collects all the essential information and points in one place, making it feel much more complete and drives the points home in a much more concise way.

Apart from that, the book contains some beautiful full page slogans, which I, had it been my book, would have offered as posters too.

Having read the book I am even more convinced that buying more gear is not the way to go and I will definitely revisit this book again.
Even though much of the material is taken from a blog, I will still recommend this book to every photographer who are getting ready to get rid of the urge for more gear and focus on taking great and unique pictures instead.

You can buy the book “A Lesser Photographer” here.

(This post was originally written in Danish)

Like-hunting

Ever since I started taking photography more seriously I have been using social medias in one form or another, to “measure” how good my pictures were.
The trouble with social medias is that it is very hard to tell why people are liking. Is it because they think it’s a pretty picture? Because they recognize or relate to the subject of the picture or is it something else?
In general there isn’t given much feedback on social medias as most people just drop a “like” and move on.
It is up to yourself try and analyze what it is that people like and if possible, (it isn’t) why.

For me this has resulted in some peculiar situations lately, where a picture I weren’t sure I’d share ended up being my most liked picture on Google+
Sure, I like this picture but it just doesn’t feel like something special to me.

On the other hand I took this picture. I put a lot of thought and effort into getting it right, to try and express myself creatively…
…only to have it be more or less ignored on the social medias.

Why is that? I agree that it isn’t a unique piece of art never seen before, but to me there is something compelling to it. To me it expresses something.
And even though I known it shouldn’t, it bothers me that I got no response on the picture.
And that finally leads me to the point: Likes doesn’t matter. Other peoples opinion doesn’t matter.
It sound cliché, but it is all about doing what you think is fun.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t listen to what other people think.
You should always listen to constructive criticism, but you should also filter out stupid comments from people sitting behind computer screens.

The point is that if you want to keep growing into your photography or whatever interest you have, you have to figure out what it is you love doing the most and then do that, regardless of the response you get on the social media.
If you don’t you will end up a shadow of yourself, creatively speaking.

For me, that doesn’t mean that I will stop posting to social medias. It just means I will try to stop focusing on how many likes I get.
…or try to find a forum or similar where it is possible to get constructive criticism from like minded.

(This post was originally written in Danish)

A new tool: Lightroom

For a really long time I have bee trying to find an application that could handle my entire editing workflow, all the way from when I put an SD card in my computer and to when I am ready to publish or print a finished image.
Up until now I have mainly been using Canon DPP, which is an excellent application, but a bit limited in some places. So I have been using Paint Shop Pro as a supplement, along with some plugins from Topaz Labs.

In my search for a better tool, I have tried Corels Aftershot Pro which I think have a lot of potential but also a lot of weaknesses.
It doesn’t help much that Corel seems to have doubts about what they want to do with it.

I also tried Lightzone, and even though it seems like a powerful tool, it isn’t really intuitive to use.

Finally we have the “big player”: Adobe Lightroom. My problem with Lightroom has always been the price, but the reviews has been excellent, so I have been weighting for or against for a while.
Now if have decided and bought a license at a favorable price.

Until now I have only started configuring and learning the basics but already I am convinced that it is a good and well thought out application.
In some ways it is a lot like Aftershot Pro (or is it the other way around) but the user interface is much more intuitive.
Using an application with a lot of users also makes it easier to get help from forums or tutorials.

I al looking forward to digging deeper into the finer details of Lightroom and hopefully it won’t be long before I can publish my first picture edited in Lightroom.

(This post was originally written in Danish)