Why I got rid of my photography gear

Jan 31, 2017

A.B Watson

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Why I got rid of my photography gear

Jan 31, 2017

A.B Watson

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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I had everything I ever needed, all the dream gear, Broncolor lighting, the latest Professional Canon cameras, and all the fastest Canon lenses. I had the latest Apple laptop, C-stands, tripods, all the gear I could ever dream of. I had it all, and at the time it was good. So why did I decide to get rid of everything after only a few years.

I used all my gear, I used it all the time. Everything I purchased I needed, or so I thought. I would do a studio photo shoot every weekend for personal work, and client work throughout the week. I got to a point where purchasing everything would be cheaper instead of renting. So over time I purchased all the gear I could ever need.

The problem was and wasn’t the gear, ironically. Using the gear made my life easier, I had a variety of lighting setups I would use. My clients loved my work and paid me for my time. But slowly I lost passion for the work my clients booked me for. The work I was doing wasn’t fulfilling my soul. It was time to change things up. I made the business decision to drop all my fashion work. As a result, my personal style changed. I had a lot of gear, and that gear wasn’t making me happy. I wanted to simplify my life, to do that required letting go.

I found minimalism which isn’t for everyone. But for me, it was what I needed at the time. I stopped using all my gear and came up with a photography process and minimal gear list.

Photography process

  • Portable (only use what I could carry)
  • Anywhere (be able to take a photo anywhere)
  • Anything (be able to take a photo of anything)
  • Available light (no lighting gear)
  • Minimal (one camera, one lens, one film/preset)
  • Identifiable (have a consistent style)

Photography gear

  • One camera (Leica M)
  • One lens (50mm Summilux)
  • One film/preset (Kodak Tri-X 400)
  • Lightmeter
  • ND filter (no tripod)

These are my limitations and guidelines to my process and style. With these limitations, it forces me to be more creative.

Because I limited my gear and process I began to feel freer. I didn’t have to make gear choices anymore. No more what lens should I use? I only had a 50mm. I only had one camera. I can only photograph with the available surrounding light. I no longer had the option to manipulate the lighting. At first, this was very hard, but over time my process influenced and changed my style. As a result, it became freeing.

In minimising my gear, I have found happiness. Do you use all your gear? Does it bring you happiness, or could you also benefit from a little downgrading yourself?

About the Author

Alexander Ben Korako Watson, best known as A.B Watson is a New Zealand photographer based in Auckland. He creates fine art photography in black and white. If you would like to see more of his work, you can visit his website, like his Facebook page and follow him on Instagram and Twitter. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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3 responses to “Why I got rid of my photography gear”

  1. stewart norton Avatar
    stewart norton

    I did something similar but not as extreme For my weddings i used to carry around my 3ds and d700 a 12-24mm, 50mm 1.4, 105mm macro, 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8. A couple of things made me change, firstly my back was suffering carrying it all around and secondly i found myself spending too much time deciding which lens to use. Now i have a 28mm f1.4 on my 3ds and my 70-200 on my d700. It took a bit of getting used to but once i did it was a revelation taking away that added decision about wether to swap lenses of not has allowed me to just get on and take the shots, it has made me think more creatively and i am enjoying it so much more !

    1. Ken Carver Avatar
      Ken Carver

      That sounds reasonable since you can go wide with the 28 on the 5D if you needed to. It appears you still need the macro unless you stand way back with the 70-200 for ring shots

  2. Stereo Reverb Avatar
    Stereo Reverb

    That’s really awesome that worked for you- i’d love to see what photos came out of it. When i go out on location, it’s usually me, my camera, and a reflector (which rarely gets used). My camera is sensitive enough where i don’t need much light to work in.

    I however do have a fair sized kit of strobes, lightstands, and now that i have a Mola beauty dish, i lug a c stand out to go with it, along with several softboxes. Having that kit, or rather- having extended options- gives me even more ability to be way more creative by allowing me to achieve the exact lighting that i could never get with just a camera and minimal gear. Instead of being limited by ambient light or just one basic strobe or speedlight, i can make light do whatever i want, so with that, i’ve gotten much more creative with my shoots.

    I had the same idea as you when i bought a Fuji xt100s with a fixed 35 lens, thinking it would force me to be more creative, but it instead drastically limited to what i could do and shoot- it actually did the opposite of what i had thought it would. We all have workflows that work best for us, and having exactly what i want when i need it is a pain sometimes, but definitely worth it in the end.