The (cold dark days of winter are getting to me this year. The year is colder than average and when it’s not, the weather switches to mild but dull and wet. Neither situation is sitting well with me at the moment and my lack of photographic productivity is evidence of my lethargy. I know for a fact that getting out into the world rewards me with images, but the desire to go and do it is lacking.
What to do?
There are a number of ways to cure the creative “doldrums”. One of these is to embark on a project.
One of my favourite projects is called the “One camera, one lens, one year” challenge that Mike Johnson postulated on his blog “The Online Photographer”.
The basic premise (modifications allowed as needed), is to choose one camera (a Leica is recommended for it’s hands on, grass roots practicality, and I dare say, it’s nostalgia quotient), then attach one lens, usually something between 35-50mm on a full frame (modification allowed), then set yourself the task of taking 1 shot per day (any subject) and processing/posting it as regularly as possible (film is recommended, but is not mandatory).
There is no unrealistic expectation that you will not touch other gear, or stop working if photography is your trade, but the OCOLOY discipline must be adhered to, even if it requires you “put on another photographic hat” for a while each day. If you cannot post, or even shoot every day for what ever reason, the challenge does not end, but determined adherence is part of the reward process. You may add self inflicted limitations like jpeg, or mono only, but that is up to you.
More than one image can be taken, but only the best for the day should be used. This adds the life lesson that some days are golden, full of image making potential, others are dust, giving little, but they all count.
Zoom lenses are not technically out of bounds, but they add to the bulk of the go anywhere kit and soften the lesson of getting your eye trained, rather than just throwing more focal length options at the composition.
1) To learn how consistent work keeps you “on point” and show the benefits of working through different moods, subjects and seasons with the forced requirement of making an effort daily, while at the same time limiting the distraction of too many tools.
2) Getting to know photography on a deeper level through the “eye” of a single camera and lens, then pushing your technique within that very restrictive (at first) envelope, which is widely thought to be the best way of elevating your skills.
3) Become fully immersed in the process, rather than the superficial top layer of gear and photographic desire without solid work to support it.
It is a strongly held belief by many old heads, that you will be a better and/or revitalised photographer at the end of the process.
My tools for this will be an old OMD EM5, as they make the ideal “go everywhere” camera (well known to me and of low “preciousness”) and the 25mm lens which is ironically my least liked, but most trusted and versatile non-zoom lens (the 25mm f1.8 is actually closer to a 45mm FF equivalent, which makes it the ideal standard lens). The Pen F is tempting, mainly due to it’s Leica like ascetic, but the ageing EM5’s need a project as much as I, so one of them will be pressed into service and the Pen has other duties.
I missed my start date (1st July), due to said malaise and a freezing cold computer room, but the actual date does not matter, only the on-going commitment.
To take the daily image as required unless it is somehow not physically possible to do so. I may not post on a daily basis, but I will take all 365 images over the year and wont sneak yesterdays second option into todays etc.
Other images not associated with the OCOLOY will be taken, especially on the next Japan trip, but the Em5 will also go on that trip and an effort to take a relevant image will be made. I may even only take it if the process dictates.