Bad mood or the wrong lens?

I went out for a walk last Saturday with a 50mm lens (35mm f/2 on my Fuji X-T3). I wasn’t in a good mood (long story, but a family member is struggling with a tough illness). I took 5 photos on total, all on my phone, despite my camera hanging over my shoulder the whole time. It wasn’t a waste of time because I needed the exercise and still enjoyed being out on the streets, but still, not exactly productive.

Then I went out for a walk the next day with an 85mm lens (56mm f/1.2 on the Fuji). I was in a pretty good mood. I took a lot of photos, a few that I’m pleased with. Nothing amazing but not bad. Some on my phone, but mostly on the camera.

It made me wonder what made the most difference. A longer lens is definitely easier to work with. I don’t like the extra size and weight and generally prefer a wider lens, but with Covid it just seems more appropriate a lot of the time to stay further back from a scene, give everyone more space. But I suspect that my mood was more of a factor. I was enjoying my surroundings, more open to seeing and interacting with it, more relaxed and willing to experiment rather than determinedly still looking for photographs.

I’m not saying you have to be in a good mood to make a good photograph. Some excellent music has been made by people angry with the world and I’m sure that’s the case with many images too. I don’t think we, as photographers, get to be the impartial observers we might like to be though - we all care and carry our emotions. Often the photographs we make reflect that.


Headshot, portrait, street and documentary photographer in NYC and Jersey City

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