Decision paralysis is something that almost every photographer – if they amass enough gear – faces at some point. It’s when you’ve got so much stuff that you just can’t reach a decision on which piece of kit to use. You’ve got too much choice and you’re overwhelmed to the point of not being able to pick anything. We’ve all been there at least once. The solution, of course, is to limit your options.
Limiting your options is a great way to lose decision paralysis. After all, if you’ve got few or no options, the choice is usually quite easy. Logical. Only taking one or two lenses out with you, instead of the usual ten, for example, is a good start. In this video, photographer Mike Smith talks about decision paralysis and how he’s overcome it using what he believes are the only two lenses you need for landscape photography.
For landscape photography, Mike now favours and recommends the Tamron 17-28 mm F/2.8 and the Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD lenses. This is the two-lens kit that’s eliminated his decision paralysis, letting him take his attention away from figuring out what gear to use and put it towards actually shooting photographs. They provide him with a very long focal length range, from a wide 17mm all the way to a super-telephoto 400mm, with only a slight gap from 28-50mm – an area not common for landscape photographers.
Limiting his gear allowed Mike to focus on the photography and less on the gear.
I’ve felt decision paralysis a few times over the years. But when I’ve gone to a shoot, I wanted to account for every possible opportunity at the location. So, I bring more gear than I think I’ll need, to be prepared… just in case any of those possible things might pop up. But this leads to carrying a lot of gear everywhere, and sometimes, that leads to you not being able to make up your mind about what to use for a given scenario.
When I visited Taiwan in 2019, I had the opposite problem. I was 1,600ft up, at the top of Taipei 101 – the world’s tallest building until the Burj Khalifa was opened in 2010 – and only had my Nikon D800 and a 50mm f/1.4 lens with me. Choice was gone. What gear I was going to use would be an easy one. My lens was nowhere near wide enough to capture what I wanted to in front of me in a single shot. So, I shot a bunch of images to stitch into a panorama when I got back to my hotel and hoped for the best.
I spent 20-30 seconds shooting that series of images. I probably would’ve spent longer than that just trying to figure out what lens to use if I’d had a ton of gear with me. But being forced to use only that one camera and lens (we’d planned to just shoot street photography, I didn’t know in advance we were going up there) allowed me to focus on the creative side of things. How was I going to overcome the limitations of my gear to give me what I want? It let me worry about the exciting bits of making images!
The panorama turned out ok, too.
Do you like to be spoilt for choice when shooting? Or do you limit the gear you take out?