The number one challenge

One camera, one lens, one film/preset, one year. The number one photography challenge is as simple as that, and at the same time incredibly difficult as well. This challenge at the end of it, promises to change your approach and style as a photographer. I originally got the idea from David Brommer and tweaked it a little. Originally the idea was to find your style but I turned it into a way to simplify a photographers workflow, style and life.

First pick a camera, preferably one you already have, be it a DSLR, point & shoot to a cellphone. Whatever you have, use only that. No upgrades, no newer model later in this photography challenge. One camera, that’s it. And if your camera has a fixed lens in the body the better. For those that don’t have this, you must also choose a single lens to mount to your camera body, Prime, zoom, cell phone your poison. Now the easier part is over, it’s time to settle on one film choice or preset. Use googles free Analog Efex Pro, Silver Efex ProVSCO or any of the countless presets available to you, but only pick one. I personally chose VSCO Kodak Tri-X 400. After you make your final decision, all you have to do is stick with your choice for a year, easy… right?

Sadly you will get buyer regret, Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) during this photography challenge. You will be guaranteed to hit a wall of frustration and limitations. Once you hit this wall during your Number one challenge, grit will see you through. Focus on getting over that first initial wall, once you do, everything will become simpler, easier and natural when it comes to your photographic process. After talking to a few other photographers that have done this challenge, we have all found this difficult but eventually became an enlightening process.

Blurry image of a arm holding a camera in a foggy mirror.

FYI this is a personal photography challenge, not a career challenge. But in saying that, some photographers found they never picked up other gear when doing ‘The number one challenge’, even when it came to commercial work. People found it helped them to define their personal style or help to find it down the road (me included). A warning, most participants got rid of all the gear they no longer used. This simplified their gear decisions and insurance costs, which is an added bonus.

But the number one advantage about this challenge is you will end up developing a personal style. You will also learn your camera and focal length inside and out. No more need to chimp, you will see a scene and know where to stand and compose even before you pull the camera up. I’ve evened got to a point where I know the setting needed, no more light entering or looking at a screen for me. So give it a go, what do you have to lose?