It is possible. I'm not here writing this to beat you in the head with an “it's not the gear” rant; we can all agree that take is a bit redundant after awhile. But with that said, it still holds very true. What I'm here writing to share is why I decided to use one lens, which one I used, how I use it, and most importantly, how you can too. I built my entire portfolio using one lens and one lens only. Before you read on, can you guess which lens by looking at the photos below?
If You Guessed A 50mm Prime, You Were...
...close! My entire portfolio was built using the 85mm Nikon Nikkor f1.4 G prime lens. As a portrait, headshot, and fashion photographer, this lens is a stone cold killer and covers every corner of my needs, relatively.
You can crop in close for great headshots.
While still be able to step back for a nice full body portrait.
For portrait photographers, the 85mm has proven time and time again that it's a must-have for any portrait photographer.
But Why Just Have One Lens?
It really depends on your situation. Yes, it would be nice to have an arsenal of three to five lenses at an arm's reach, but as a broke college graduate at the time, my situation only really allowed me to opt for one lens. I know many aspiring photographers may find themselves in this situation, so I do share that sentiment. Instead of picking two or three OK lenses, I decided that going with one great lens that I can grow with will really benefit my work going forward. There's a great advantage to using one lens, it gives you the opportunity to learn the nooks and crannies of what you can and can't do with it.
Some of the Benefits
As mentioned a second ago, there are a few advantages, including being able to spend exclusive time learning everything that there is to know about one lens. Another great advantage that you'll benefit from is lens selection during a shoot because there will be none. No waffling between lenses and always wondering which lens to use. You won't find yourself saying “I should have used that lens” because there is no pondering of lens selection.
A couple more quick notes. Carrying around just one lens is very lightweight and allows you carry a small bag or no bag at all. It is also a very inexpensive solution compared to buying a treasure chest full of lenses to lug around.
Yes, There Are Some Downsides
Sometimes you will find yourself in a situation where the lens you have is just not feasible. It has happened to me from time to time, I've been in situations where locations have been too tight to where a 35mm or 50mm would have been more practical, but we make it work. It can pigeon hole you at times and this idea isn't suitable for photographers, for example, wedding photographers.
While it's not practical for every photographer under the sun, it is doable. The underlying message in this article is simply this, buy what you need. Sure I'd want a 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, and a 105mm, but I really don't need all that. In fact, I'm starting to look at 35mm lenses at the most to capture portraits with multiple subjects and more of environmental portraits. That's for another article though. Does anyone else do this? What do you think?