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Gear & Apps

Add Restrictions To Boost Creativity | Minimalist Photography With A 50mm Lens

By Holly Roa on April 24th 2017

Recently there have been a slew of gear announcements, and there’s nothing like the call of the manufacturers with their shiny new toys to stoke the fire of a photographer’s perpetual gear lust. But what if your longing for more equipment was actually holding you back?

Sometimes, less really is more, or rather (in this case) can lead to more. Restrictions can force problem solving and creativity. When we have yet another tool at the ready to dig us out of our situation, we are not forced to change our thinking.

Of course, it’s nice to have options, but relegating yourself to the use of minimal equipment can be great for creativity as you are forced to find new ways to look at your scenario with no ‘plan B.’

London-based photographer Sean Tucker has done just this on a trip to the Island of Gozo. He selected a Sigma 50mm Art lens to accompany his 5D Mark II after hauling a significant amount of gear around on a previous trip and dealing with the hassle of excess baggage and stress of guarding a lot of gear in unfamiliar terrain.


Further evincing this particular photographer’s resistance to gear-lust and addressing what can be accomplished without feeling the need to upgrade to the ‘latest-and-greatest,’ in the video Sean touches on the subject of shooting with a 5D Mark II in 2017.


As a fellow 5D Mark II holdout, I can attest to this model still being able to help a photographer create high-quality images, though at times the lack of some modern conveniences is glaring. Sean raises a very good point, though, that paying four times as much for a body isn’t likely to dramatically change the photographic outcome in the hands of a photographer.

As a counterpoint, I would add that while the images may be indistinguishable, sometimes newer or higher-end technology can open up photographic possibilities not available with ‘lesser’ cameras. For example, having a camera that can handle high ISO vs one where image quality quickly deteriorates beyond usability as ISO is increased will allow the photographer to capture low-light images that would be otherwise be missed.


In the end, the gear that best meets a photographer’s particular needs – including a need for minimalism – is the right choice. But when assessing those needs, the thoughts expressed here can help one decide if that upgrade or new lens is really necessary, and reminds us that limitations can build you up as a photographer, whether that’s self-imposed or if one simply doesn’t have the budget. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t get the newest gear, and instead make the most of what you have, and if you’ve got it all, remember to leave most of it on the shelf sometimes.

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Seattle based photographer with a side of videography, specializing in work involving animals, but basically a Jill of all trades.
Instagram: @HJRphotos

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Black Z Eddie

    I have an coming shoot in the desert so I’m going to try my best to just shoot with my 135mm f1.8.  I miss this lens.  :)

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  2. adam sanford

    Agree — This is a good habit.  A few times a year, I force myself to bring just the one prime and make it work.

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  3. Spencer Bentley

    I really appreciate his take on simplicity of gear. Its funny, I always feel like photogs that come to the revelation later in their career/journey that sometimes limiting your repertoire of gear can spark creativity may have jumped the gun or skipped a “struggle” step early in their career. Its not a criticism, but it seems like photographers like myself  (and many like me) who were forcibly limited in their gear figured this out near the beginning of our careers. Again, not a criticism or a way to toot anyones horn, just an observation. I really enjoyed this post and video. Keep up the amazing work. 


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