Buying, acquiring, and enjoying new (or new to you) gear isn’t uncommon. There are thousands of cameras out there, and they are all -at least- slightly different from each other.
The desire to collect and shoot with all the film cameras is totally normal. But, if you’re like me, it can also be overwhelming at times…particularly when traveling.
Packing an instant camera, vintage medium format camera, 35mm Rebel (or something similar), a manual focus 35mm camera, a toy camera, and a point and shoot camera seems to be the norm amongst film photographers.
And I’m not here to tell you that you shouldn’t do that. But what would happen if you tried a different approach? What if you paired down your gear by half, or more?
How would that change the way to shoot? How would that change the way you explore a new place? How would that change the way you experience your vacation?
Once upon a time, I had a one-camera, one-roll-per-day rule while traveling.
Remember how I said I only traveled with one camera and one roll per day? Well, this winter, that rule failed me. Big time.
I brought my Diana Mini with me to Taos, Colorado for a ski trip with my family. I was so excited. It’s small, lightweight, and can easily fit around my neck or in my pocket on the slopes.
I was even planning on holding it while heading down the mountain for some fun slow shutter shots. It was going to be great.
Until it wasn’t.
My Diana Mini broke. On the top of the mountain. On day one.
How on earth can a fully mechanical toy camera break? It stopped advancing film (which apparently is somewhat common for the Mini – of course it happened to me on vacation).
Since then, I’ve expanded my one-camera rule. Live, learn, adapt. Right?
So What Now?
Now, I don’t have a rule; however, I am still very mindful of the gear I bring because I need those constraints.
I don’t want to walk around Paris with five cameras. I’ve done it. It stresses me out. (Which is why I created my previous rule in the first place).
I found myself carrying heavy gear, multiple lenses, worrying about rain, and trying to take the same photo with every camera, because, well, of course they all have different film stocks and the cameras are all different.
Instead of bringing only one camera on the tip, now I think about where I’m going, what we’ll see, and what we’ll do.
Is this a new place? A place I know and love? Is it just me and my husband (slower paced) or is our daughter coming too?
For example, this summer, my family and I visited Amsterdam and France. The key factors for this trip: summer, familiar places, kiddo in tow.
Since this trip was going to be lots of movement and walking, I wanted lightweight gear that didn’t require a lot of time to set up.
So instead of my awesome (crazy-heavy) Nikon F2 Photomatic and Mamiya 645s, I opted for point and shoot cameras (more or less). I brought my Holga 120s, Polaroid SX-70, and SnapSights! underwater 35mm camera (find on eBay), since we were going to the beach.
I rarely walked out of the hotel with more than one camera. I thought about what we’d do that day and what type of photos I wanted.
Did I want to be able to take dreamy, plastic-y photos? Holga 120s was my choice. Did I really just want to walk around with a nostalgia piece around my neck and have an instant souvenir? SX-70 was the camera for me. The SnapSights! underwater camera was only for the beach.
Artistic Benefits of Limiting Gear
By committing to less gear than you normally would bring on a trip, you’re giving yourself the challenge to work within those parameters.
In my experience, creativity loves restrictive parameters. You’ll start finding new and creative ways to compose your photos. You’ll see things you might not have seen before had you been fiddling with gear in your bag.
Bonus tip: if you limit the number rolls you take, you’ll be even more selective with what you photograph. Do you normally bring unlimited film? Maybe try one or two rolls a day?
Personal Benefits Limiting Gear
You don’t have to worry about stolen or damaged gear and extra bags. You don’t have to think about it while you’re trying to enjoy your vacation. You just leave in the morning with the one camera you committed to for the day, and you’re off.
And my personal favorite: you get to enjoy the vacation more. You’ll enjoy the sites more and enjoy time with those you travel with more.