It's tempting to go from one thing to the next, whether it is a piece of gear or a method of shooting, but have you tried mastering one of them without losing your interest at the first hurdle?
In this modern world, where we are all so interconnected with the help of the Internet, it is easy to get lost in new trends or become easily influenced to purchase a new piece of gear as soon as it comes out on the market and generally promises to make you a better photographer in some shape or form. And I know just how easy it is to fall into the trap of quick promises and fixes just to come out on the other side feeling disappointed.
To stop yourself from falling into this kind of routine, it's helpful to choose something in your photography that you can focus on improving and stick with it. It's difficult to fully dedicate yourself to learning numerous things at a time, because your brain will feel like an Internet browser with 20 different tabs open, becoming more anxious as you switch between all of them without achieving anything tangible. Don't take too much on at once, and instead, pick something that's relatively simple to begin with and go from there.
Where to Start?
For example, I chose to do a one photograph a day project for a year using the same camera and the same lens. Because I had just purchased my first mirrorless camera, a cheap secondhand Fuji X-Pro1 combined with a 35mm lens, I knew I needed to come up with something that would require me to extensively use it; otherwise, I would only pick it up on occasions when I travelled, and that may not have been enough. I had always wanted a small camera that I could throw in my handbag and use for street photography, but simply having that piece of equipment in my handbag wasn't enough for me to ensure I actually became active in using this camera and making the most of it.
What Will You Gain From It?
Focusing on one piece of equipment will allow it to become an extension of your vision. Instead of searching through your bag and wondering which body and lens combination to use, you will gain a thorough knowledge of what your chosen piece of equipment is capable of, and you will work around it. Instead of spending time swapping your lenses around, you will be physically moving yourself to alter the composition, because you will immediately know what is possible and what isn't.
This doesn't mean you should disregard your whole kit, but it's rather a reminder for you to rely on your skills and vision in using what you already have instead of seeking out the next best thing that may or may not improve your photography, because generally, it doesn't. This is because although the newest piece of equipment may perform better under certain conditions, it still doesn't create a well-composed and thought-through image, it merely creates a copy of what is in front of you.
Using the same piece of equipment over a period of time and getting to know it thoroughly will allow you to take the technical knowledge you've gained and put it at the back of your head. All you will be left with is vision and imagination to compose your photograph and create a story of it, whatever it may be. I find that the less equipment I use, the more I actually have time to focus on what is around me and how to capture it, knowing the possibilities and also the shortfalls of the type of equipment I'm using.
Have you found this to be true in your photography, too?