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

• Other articles in the Art of Seeing series

Read more:
The 50 best photographers ever
100 best photography quotes from famous photographers
The best coffee-table books on photography

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Benedict Brain

Benedict Brain is a UK based photographer, journalist and artist. He graduated with a degree in photography from the Derby School of Art in 1991 (now University of Derby), where he was tutored and inspired by photographers John Blakemore and Olivier Richon, amongst others. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and also sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel.

Until July 2018 Benedict was editor of Britain’s best-selling consumer photography magazine, Digital Camera Magazine. As a journalist he met and interviewed some of the world’s greatest photographers and produced articles on a wide range of photography related topics, presented technique videos, wrote in-depth features, curated and edited best-in-class content for a range of titles including; Amateur Photographer, PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Professional Photography and Practical Photoshop. He currently writes a regular column, The Art of Seeing, for Digital Camera magazine.