Stick to one.
Back when I started shooting digital sometime 2010, I decided to get a 50mm to go with my Canon 60D. For two years, it was my only lens. My direction was to shoot portraits so I decided to go with a focal length that would fit my desired genre. Of course I tried shooting landscape with it and even street photography.
I didn't realize that the entire experience of shooting with one lens gave me a lot of learning about focal length and how it would affect the image. The frustration and urge of moving to another focal length was almost unbearable. I didn't have the funds to buy another lens so I had to find the shot that I wanted with what I had.
Since 50mm is a prime lens, I learned to see the environment in a 50mm frame. I know if the scene will fit my angle of view. Can I step back to get a wider perspective or maybe if I circle around the subject, will it offer a more acceptable angle for my fixed 50mm lens? Before I grab my camera, I already how far should I be from my subject.
I've learned to let go of scenes that I knew I could not fit in my fixed angle of view. After putting all efforts in capturing a beautiful scene that's impossible with what my lens could take, I just stayed still and enjoyed the view instead. But the exercise of finding beautiful scenes from a limited angle of view definitely stretched my creative muscles.
Because I had no other choice of focal length, I researched and tried to learn everything I could about focal length. Every time I get a chance to shoot with my shooting buddy who happens to have a 35mm, I get the see the world in a different set of eyes. It feels like starting all over again but very interesting at the same time.
My next lens was a 24-105mm. From a fixed view to a variable focal length, it was very overwhelming and I wanted more options so I got the 17-40mm after. With all the focal lengths that I had, I would often get lost. There's too much variables and framing a scene could be captured differently.
Photography has a lot of variables--from controlling time and motion, depth of field and noise, there is so much you can do. Add the option of angle of view and background compression to the variables and you'll have a full plate. I think that having to experience shooting with one focal length helped me understand framing one at a time.
Now that I'm shooting more on fashion, there's the added variable of controlled lighting which is a totally huge universe to master. You also have outfit, model's angle and pose, plus makeup and hair. Imagine all the variables in photography and all the variables of your chosen genre, one can easily get lost for sure.
Learning photography takes a lot of patience and a strong determination to learn and understand the different elements that make a great photo. There is no shortcut; you have to learn it one at a time. Keep on shooting everyone!
Albert Pedrosa is a commercial photographer who loves to shoot fashion. He teaches Fashion Photography and High-End Retouching at PCCI and maintains a studio in Malate, Manila for both commercial and creative works. Visit www.albertpedrosa.com / Instagram: @albertpedrosaph.
I was asked to try the Fujifilm X-E1 sometime 2013 in my trip to Australia. It had an 18mm lens on it. There were a lot of spectacular views but could only be appreciated with a long focal length. I had to let that go and find my wider angle shots. That was challenging at first but it opened a very interesting perspective for me.