Monday, October 1, 2007

Back to Basics: one camera, for one month.

Haiku, for Keturah
Originally uploaded by Apocaplops
If you have ever set foot in my apartment, or met me while I was taking photos, you'll certainly know one thing about me; I have a lot of cameras. I got caught up in the whole camera-collecting thing at about the same time as I became interested in photography. While they may seem to go hand in hand, I've begun to think that having so many cameras is detrimental to my progress as a photographer.

See, I've always been a gearhead. First it was cars, and believe me when I have a laundry list of strange and rare cars I want to own someday. I found photography as a hobby, and suddenly I was doing something where I could afford a lot of the gear. It started innocently, with cheap thrift store finds, but lately it's gotten out of hand. Don't believe me? I count 17 cameras that I can see from where I sit right now, in my living room.

Obviously they don't all get used too often, and that's a shame, because many of them really are nice cameras that could take wonderful photos. Many of them are more decorative than useful. And with so much choice, a photographer can bog down and not shoot much of anything, as I have been doing recently. Each camera has a different shooting style, and if I can't decide what camera to pick up, I can't easily decide what to shoot.

I've talked with others about working within tight limitations, and I think it's time I acted on my conversations to see if they could be more than just words. I'll use only one camera for all of October, starting today. Maybe I'll learn better what I can do with it, and what I can be capable of.

So I've chosen the Polaroid SX-70. It's one of the most limiting cameras I own - the photographer controls only the focus and the composition. You can't do much about the exposure, development, or aperture, because the camera and film take care of all that. And of course Polaroid film is quite expensive, so I can't just go around shooting everything I see, or I'll go broke. I believe that these limitations will force me to work more creatively, and to explore and push the limits of what the camera and I can do together. I'll let you know at the end of the month how it goes.

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