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The art of seeing #13: Working with less can help you see more

(Image credit: Benedict Brain)
About Benedict Brain

(Image credit: Benedict Brain)

Benedict Brain is a UK based photographer, journalist and artist. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel. He is also a past editor of Digital Camera Magazine.

It has always been my assertion that this column should never have anything to do with camera gear. I’m an ‘artist’, after all, not to be bothered with such technical trivialities. 

Arty-farty folk like me are often dismissive of conversations about kit. It’s like discussing which typewriter George Orwell might have used, or which brushes Picasso preferred. These technical details might be interesting on a superficial level, but they are hardly the secret to Orwell’s genius or Picasso’s vision. That said, I’m sure both artists had their favourite, go-to tools – and I bet they thought very carefully about what they were.

So, contrary to my aversion to tech talk, I’m going to talk a little about kit. I’ve switched from a DSLR system to a medium-format mirrorless. Hefty price tags and a limited budget restricted the range of my kit, so I’ve now got one camera and one lens: the Fujinon GF63mm f/2.8 (equivalent 50mm). In the month or so I’ve been using the kit, I have found only having one focal length liberating. I bang on in workshops about the virtues of using a single focal length, but haven’t actually done so myself since I was a student.

The camera itself is a joy to use. It’s not so much the superb technical specs or the super-large sensor as the way it makes me feel when I use it. It’s nowhere near as versatile as my previous setup, but I have a tool that complements the kind of work I want to continue making in my personal practice. Switching kit has been a kind of artistic statement to myself and a commitment to my personal projects. BB

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