Limitations Help You Grow (as a Photographer)

October 04, 2017

Getting into a rut is all too easy, in any part of one's life. 

Photographers are not immune from this at all, and many of the leading professional photographers have written or spoken about the times when they have asked the question, "what am I doing?"

Assigned jobs are one thing; exploring your personal style and motivations for carrying the camera are quite another.

Taking on a personal project is often a good way to shake things up, or even just to explore different styles and techniques. 

For example, limiting oneself to only using prime lenses for a set period of time. Or even a single prime, such as a 50mm or 35mm lens. If you're typically shooting with primes already, perhaps it's the other way around, and you only use a zoom lens for a month. 

After listening to the fantastic podcast, The Candid Frame, I've decided to try limiting myself in this kind of way. At least on one of my cameras.

Fujifilm X100TFujifilm X100T This is my Fujifilm X100T, the subject of this month's experiment in limitation. It's a fantastic camera, once you get to grips with the somewhat intricate UI and functionality. 

So, for the rest of October, I'm only going to shoot at ISO 3200, no matter what. This will mean extra grain and noise in photos. It means shooting at higher shutter speeds, and higher apertures (f/5.6 and above).

When we're so used to shooting at ISO 200-800 and fearing anything about 1200, this is a bit of a challenge. I personally always try to shoot at f/2, which is so limiting already and just a bad habit I picked up because I have a bit of a hand tremor and prefer to shoot at 1/125 of a second or faster. And I'm as guilty of being obsessed with bokeh as many others are.

But these are limitations of a different kind; a limitation of imagination, and of faith in the camera (in my case, my X100T, which will be the only camera I'm limiting to ISO 3200 for the month). It's also a limitation of skill, and I feel like I need to break out of these kinds of limitations. Ironically, by setting another.

I'll let you know how it goes.