“You can forget taking that with you. This is a family day out!”
The tone of her voice indicated that the impending trip to a wildlife park was to be enjoyed for the sake of it, rather than as a photographic expedition, as she looked towards my camera bag, failing miserably to hide her disapproval. Her firmness was equalled only by my own determination to ensure any photo opportunities would be captured. Together, our respective viewpoints were classic ingredients for a compromise.
Systems grow, often uncontrollably, and mine was no exception. Lot’s of bodies, lenses and “essential” accessories built up to form an expensive and very heavy outfit. Unsurprisingly, I once stumbled on a step while laden with my kit, resulting in one very painful and very broken ankle. On reflection, though reluctantly, I agreed that perhaps she had a point.
I travelled light. A digital SLR body, without a battery grip, and two compact but very basic kit zoom lenses were chosen. It was far from the best quality available to me, but this was a compromise. The whole lot was easily packed into a compact bag. And we all went to the zoo.
It had been some time since I had ventured out so light, and it was a revelation. While the technical quality of the images was inferior to those I’d have taken with the heavier, larger and higher quality lenses, in every other respect they were (dare I say artistically) just as good. I shot a lot more pictures. Apart from the combination obviously being easier to carry all day there were other less obvious benefits. It was naturally far more convenient. It was also more discreet, both in terms of photographing my children and blending in with the crowd, which I enjoyed a great deal. Photography fitted around the day rather than the day fitting around photography. A seed was sown.
Now, I travel light all the time. For a number of reasons, including the dreaded financial necessity, less is more. I’ve changed system. Aside from a few legacy items, and those of particular sentimental value, I have unloaded a huge amount of equipment compared to years gone by. Now, I use one dSLR body, and four lenses. Two zoom lenses between them cover an equivalent range of 28mm to 300mm (in 35mm terms). Two prime lenses, a 1:1 macro and a pancake “standard” lens complete the quartet. It’s light, it’s easy to use, it’s all good quality and, most importantly, it all gets the job done!
Naturally, there is an upgrade path to follow as and when finances allow me to do so. In terms of size, I won’t grow the system significantly, choosing to upgrade the quality, but not the quantity. While I may sacrifice the quantity, I won’t sacrifice the quality. That is one area where less isn’t more.
So, she was right. Size matters. Not the first time a woman’s said that to me, and probably won’t be the last either!