Minimalism, Marie Kondo, tidying up, goodbye things, less is more. You might have heard of these things if you have ever scrolled through Netflix or Youtube. You might have even come across a few articles on social media referring to decluttering or getting rid of your stuff, or simple living. Minimalism is becoming a social movement, culturally recognised. We have a lot of items in our lives that don’t bring value (daily joy). I would like to enlighten you if I may about adopting this movement into your photography and to try photographing with less.
We are all born into the world as minimalists, we are created with nothing but our souls in a vessel we call our body. We have no clothes on our backs no items in our hands. It’s only after living in this world that we start to hold onto things. This is where the confusion on ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ become entwined, and we start to think they are all vital for us. Be it to show who we are to others, or to make us feel like we have value.
Photography is a hard one to tackle when we adopt the lifestyles of a minimalist. A photographer requires gear to create imagery. Be it the camera, lighting, physical photographs, memory cards, hard-drives, darkroom equipment, computers, I could go on forever. Photographing with less is almost impossible. But indulge we if you will. What are the bare essentials to create a photograph these days? What is the bare minimum gear or item you have to use to produce an image? Nowadays you could just use your smart-phone, or a point & shoot camera. Want something a little more advanced, all you need is a camera body and lens. That’s about it. So why do photographers accumulate and hold onto so much gear? Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
We are all victims of advertisements, brand placements, spec & comparison articles. The internet is a wonderful thing, and it is also a place of personal comparison. We see a photographer we admire and notice what they are using, and we think or believe we need the gear they are using to achieve the same results. I did this in my early years of photography. I truly believe its a faze in the creative process, to copy, emulate, then we finally remix and make our own unique work. But the question you really need to ask yourself, am I copying to be them, or am I copying to learn? Learning doesn’t require ownership, knowledge is free and abundant. Rent or go to a workshop before you own. Because if your copying someone else’s style, process or look, you will forever be behind them in their shadow. Instead, step into the light and walk your own path.
For me photographing with less means, only carrying or using what is absolutely necessary to create a photograph in your style. You might require more gear than just a camera, and that is OK. Personally, I need a camera & a 10-stop ND filter to achieve my photo aesthetic. You might require a little more, but ask yourself do you really need that item? I could use a tripod, trigger release & an extra battery. But they aren’t vital. I embrace the struggle and inconvenience because it forces me to become more creative. I have to think of other ways to achieve the image I envisioned.
Photographing with less has been truly freeing for me. Here are some of the many benefits from photographing with less. You have less gear to carry. You save money on things you don’t vitally need. Your insurance costs are lower. With inconvenience comes creativity and exploration. You also save a lot of time not having to choose what gear to take. Just pick up your camera and your set. Your set to go out into the world and capture its beauty because when you photograph with less, your truly free.
About the Author
Alexander Ben Korako Watson, best known as A.B Watson is a photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand. You can find out more about him on his website, follow his work on Instagram and Facebook or reach out to him through Twitter. This article was also published here and shared with permission.