Sometimes, as photographers, we get a little tied up in having everything about a shoot be as professional and as perfect as we possibly can. But, as Daniel DeArco points out in this great video, it doesn't always have to be that way.
It's time for a confession. It's something I'm getting better about, but it's still a problem for me. When I go to do a photoshoot — any shoot, really — I start going over what equipment I "need" to bring. Usually I end up bringing way too many things; lights I don't end up using, lenses that overlap in focal length and that I also don't end up using, and other doodads and gizmos that I think will help perfect my shots. After all, I bought them, so why shouldn't I bring them?
As DeArco points out in this video in which he talks about "the photographer's paradox," all of that stuff is rarely necessary. Unless you're doing a big commercial shoot where you know you'll have specific needs and need a larger variety of equipment, oftentimes you'll have the same outcome, or maybe even better, with a more limited gear setup. In this story, DeArco talks about a time when he geared up for a shoot, only to have a friend tell him he should take a step back, downsize his kit, and go for something more simple. It turned out that he had the same, if not better, results when he started marketing the images.
In his definition, the "the photographer's paradox" is "when you're so concerned with peer judgments, perfectionism, and industry standards that you hold yourself back from creating anything right now." And I think he's spot on.
I'd bet that most professional photographers have been guilty of this at some point, and I know I have. Recently, I've started taking more minimal kits on certain low-pressure shoots — just bringing a 35mm and 85mm lens instead of the "holy trinity" plus a macro, etc. — and I've been pleased with the results when I do that. It simplifies things, makes me work with what I have, and I get a little more creative because of it.
Thanks, DeArco, for this story, and I hope it's a lesson many of us will learn. Sometimes, less is more.