You Can’t Shoot With More Than One Camera or Lens at a Time

eric kim street photography
Downtown LA, 2011. Photo by Rinzi Ruiz

No matter how rich we are, we can never inhabit more than one room at a time, or sleep in more than one bed at a time.

Which made me also realize— the beauty of the “1 camera, 1 lens” philosophy is this; you can’t shoot with more than 1 camera, or 1 lens at a time.

Paralysis by analysis

eric kim street photography downtown la
Downtown LA, 2011

One of the biggest problems I had when I owned many cameras and lenses— I fell victim to “paralysis by analysis” — I wasted precious mental energy on deciding which camera to shoot with that day.

What I have done instead is to minimize my lifestyle, to have a “choice-minimal” lifestyle. This means only having 1 camera and 1 lens with me. It means wearing the same outfit everyday. It means eating (more or less) the same food, and drinking the same coffee (black coffee, preferably espresso whenever possible).

Wasting less mental decisions on which camera to shoot with, I can focus on the most important thing — making images. I no longer have the “What if?” syndrome — wishing I had a different camera or a different lens for a certain purpose.

Instead, I embrace the camera and lens I currently have. I learn how to deal with the limitations. And the limitation force me to be more creative.

There is no “perfect” camera out there. There will always be upsides and downsides.

The secret is to find what is the best camera for you — based on you personal lifestyle and preferences.

For me, the ideal camera is small, compact, light, easy to operate, and always with me. Therefore I always try to optimize my camera to be “ultralight” and “ultracompact.” Of course, that will be different for you.

Just 1 of everything

Just as we cannot sleep in more bed at a time, we cannot occupy more than one room at a time. We can’t be inside more than one home at a time. We can’t drive more than one car at a time. We can’t have more than one conversation at a time.

What if we tried to embrace a “just 1” lifestyle — when we only owned one of everything, and only did one thing at a time? That means not to hoard — just to have a few material possessions which bring you joy to your life.

That might also mean to “mono-task” (opposite of multi-tasking). When you’re having dinner with your loved ones, don’t also check your phone. When you’re playing with your kids, don’t answer emails. When you’re chatting with your partner, don’t do anything else but talk with them.

When you’re taking photos, only take photos — don’t listen to music or podcasts. When you’re listening to music, only listen to music, and nothing else. When you’re reading a book, don’t also watch TV at a the same time, or listen to the radio.

I feel the more we mono-task, the more focused we will be, the more effective we will be, and the more productive and happy we will be. This goes with our work, creative pursuits, and our personal life.

And with our possessions, let us just have 1 home, 1 car, 1 smartphone, 1 computer, 1 camera, 1 lens. Fewer choices is more freedom.


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