Less is more. That short and simple statement is true in both photography and in life. Less time commitments. Less money spent. Less accumulating stuff. Less frustrations. Less worrying. Less stress. More time spent with family and friends. More generosity. More doing what you love. More living life right now.
In America, and many other parts of the world, materialism is strong, and it constantly demands more. You need the best, the newest, the largest, and the most-expensive things that you can afford. If the Jones’ have it, you need it now! Envy is everywhere, and it’s difficult to escape its cold, choking grasp. People judge you on your possessions, at least that’s what you’re told, so your possessions better be good. You need to make a good impression quickly, as you might not get a second chance. You aren’t who you are, you are what you have. It’s an incredibly sad and selfish way to live, but it’s normal for a lot of people. I’m guilty of living this way just as much as the next person, but I’m tired of the materialistic life.
The opposite of materialism is minimalism, which is living with the absolute least amount of stuff that you need to survive. If you don’t need it, you shouldn’t have it. If it doesn’t add value to your life, you shouldn’t have it. It’s not about things, it’s about not having things. I’m not against minimalism, but I do feel like it’s a rabbit hole that can miss the point. Having less can be very good, but there’s a point where the pursuit of it can be oppressive and as equally vain as the pursuit of frivolous stuff.
There’s a reasonable middle ground, where you’re not consumed by consumerism and you’re not subservient to minimalism. It’s called intentionalism, which is being intentional with your time and treasures. The idea is that everything you own should serve a purpose or bring you joy. If it doesn’t have a purpose in your life or if it doesn’t bring you joy, you don’t need it, so get ride of it! It’s about living with less. It’s having less clutter; having less things that you don’t really need taking up space in your life. Everything that you buy should be purchased very intentionally. Thoughtful consideration is required for what you spend money on. Spend less on junk. You shouldn’t be a servant to money, but instead money should serve you. Also, be careful of things that rob your time, because time is incredibly short.
Cut down on what you’ve accumulated. Lessen time spent unnecessarily. Trim what you spend money on. Scale down yourself, so that you can gain what those things can never provide. Reduce, so that you can obtain joy. Reduce, so that you can spend more time with family and friends. Reduce, so that you can be more generous with others. Reduce, so that you can live more freely. Not less for the sake of less, but less for the sake of more.
I don’t want to sound too preachy; I’m writing these things to myself just as much as I’m writing them to you. I’m telling you about this philosophical road that I’m beginning to journey down because you might notice some changes. Actually, the journey began several months ago, but the changes will become more obvious on Fuji X Weekly as time goes on.
Something that I’ve been working towards is fewer articles on this blog, yet higher quality content. I want to spend less time on insignificant posts, and use that time instead for more meaningful articles. I hope that this will improve Fuji X Weekly. Another change is that I sold my house and moved. For me, a big part of intentionalism is downsizing, which I’ve been doing, and now I live in a different town. That will affect my pictures in some way, although I’m not certain exactly how at the moment. Anytime that you change where you’re photographing, it will change your photography, at least a little.
How does intentionalism relate to photography and Fujifilm? Well, for me, Fujifilm cameras save me a ton of time because I can rely on camera-made JPEGs. I rarely sit at a computer editing pictures. I can use that time for other things, such as playing with my kids or a date night with my wife or visiting a friend or capturing more pictures. This isn’t new for me, but it does fit well with this philosophy. Another way that this relates is that I should only own gear that I need (serves a purpose) or that brings me joy. Of course, all of it brings me joy! But things that sit on a shelf collecting dust and taking up space, rarely used, aren’t really bringing joy, they’re just clutter. If something is working well for me, there’s no need to replace it just because something new came out. It’s good to get your money’s worth out of what you buy before replacing it. Buy things of quality and really use them, and don’t be in a hurry to upgrade.
Intentionalism is a journey towards simplicity. It’s similar to minimalism, but the end goal isn’t less for the sake of less, it’s less for the sake of more. It’s a path towards joy and a meaningful life, where I’m less important and those around me are more important. It’s a journey of generosity. It’s finding ways to make life simpler so that I can focus more on what’s really important. Less can indeed be more.
Really enjoyed this post. I’ve been working on the same kinds of things for a couple of years. At the end of 2018, I chose to be more deliberate about how I spent my time and chose to hit pause on Instagram. It’s not been 13 months since I’ve posted there and I don’t spend much time browsing either. It’s been a really good change for me.
Instagram is a time robber, for sure! And a great place to become envious, too. Thank you for the feedback!
The local brewery announces limited can releases on Instagram so I have my account for that. I limited my follows to New Jersey photographers.
That’s a very good reason to be on Instagram.
Good post. I often speak to camera clubs and other groups who are mystified why I ditched my full-frame Canon gear and massive lenses for Fuji. Often with photographers, size and investment equals status. When I teach composition and creativity, simpler is better.
Your post sums it up and gives it meaning. Thanks for sharing your insight! – Gary
You are welcome! I do agree, size and cost seems to equal status, unfortunately. In reality, the image is what matters, and how it was achieved is much less important.
I really enjoyed this and fully support you Marie-Kondoing the whole process. While gear selection and minimizing wasn’t your main prerogative with this article, I am currently debating whether I really need me 23mmf2 lens when I have my 35mmf2. On one hand, I don’t use it a lot, but on the other, I enjoy the results I get when I do use it. My main argument I am trying to make for myself is if I do sell the lens, I will have funds to buy supplies to start developing and scanning my own film without using a lab so perhaps the power of knowledge and new experiences is more valuable than a wider focal length…
I like the 23mm f/2, but the 35mm f/2 is an absolute favorite of mine. I can see the benefit of selling the lens for a darkroom and scanner. I would love that, personally. Thank you for the input!
Minimalism isn’t about depriving oneself.
“It is marked by clarity, purpose, and intentionality. At its core, being a minimalist means intentionally promoting the things we most value and removing everything that distracts us from it. It is a life that forces intentionality upon us. As a result, it forces improvements in almost all aspects of your life.”
So if you value the Fujinon XF23mm F2 lens keep that lens.
Forgot to include a link:
All the best on your journey of intentionalism.
Something to bring balance.
Yes, thank you!
Hi! Do you remember how someone asked about if we all can have some place to share our photos and words if needed? I remember they said “Flickr”. Today I thought about Reddit. What do you people think?
I’ve never used Reddit myself. I’ve wanted to create some sort of forum, but the idea of moderating it frightens me.
I registered on Reddit yesterday, I found two Fujifilm X related subreddits and then I even posted two images. Well… I can’t see much of discussion there, but images are being uploaded regularly. https://www.reddit.com/r/fujifilm?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
If I wanted a place on the Web where I could easily be exposed to toxic human interaction, I would choose Reddit.
Maybe. I don’t know. I found two Fujifilm subreddits and noticed no toxicity so far. Anyway I don’t care anymore where fujifilm shooters gather.
I have found the Flikr community to be friendly and supportive.