just one lens

by Heather Lazark

just one lens photo

My love affair with photography began like many others here at Clickin Moms, during the anticipation of my first child. Clearly, the art and I were destined for life. At that same time I drastically cut back on work, to be home more, leaving me with very little financial freedom. And as you all know, photography is not an inexpensive hobby. With very little money and a passion that would not die, I found myself in a bit of a conundrum.

I was determined to pursue photography, even on a serious budget. I pledged that I would not let my modest equipment hold me back, regardless of what gear I thought a photographer was “suppose” to have. This is my art, my passion, and photography has a piece of my soul. So I committed to learning as much as I possibly could and to work around my obstacle.

You may be wondering what I mean by having modest equipment.  Well, I started out with a Canon Rebel and after saving for over a year I managed to purchase a used 5D classic from a friend.  Beyond that,  I only have one lens.  Yep, that’s right.  One lens.  My 50 1.4.  Yikes, this feels a bit like confession time.

Now I’m not going to lie, I would be nothing short of incredibly grateful to have another lens but it’s simply not in the cards for me right now. So I make it work. In fact, I more than make it work, I secretly love having one lens, and here are some reasons why…

  1. When I get ready to shoot, whether it be a planned session or a spontaneous moment around the house, I don’t have to spend time trying to decide which lens to use. It’s already set up, ready to go on my camera. Nor do I have to take the time to change my lens, which might cause me to miss a moment I might not otherwise capture. By eliminating lens choice as a variable, I can really focus on other important elements such light, perspectives, and framing to create my vision.
  2. I’m a bit of a minimalist. I like things simple. When I go out on a shoot all I carry is my camera and a light back pack. Instead of toting around a camera bag full of lenses and other equipment, I keep my arms free for one thing only, my camera. This helps reduce distractions for me and helps me get into my creative brain.
  3. Because I only have one lens, I know it inside and out. I have learned to use my camera settings and my quick-moving feet to help me create all of my visions from my little 50 1.4. I have never felt limited when it comes to variety in my photos. I feel the possibilities are infinite, even with just one lens. Indoor, outdoor, close-up, detail, distance, landscape, everyday, hospital newborn, food, parties, selfies; I shoot them all.

Here are some examples of the variation I have captured with this lens:

just one lens photo

just one lens photo

just one lens photo

just one lens photo

just one lens photo

There are those infrequent moments when someone asks me which lenses I use that a small part of me feels like I have novice written on a sticky attached to my forehead.  Although I will always have room to grow,  I quickly remind myself of my photography journey and how far I have come.  I have not gotten to where I am today because of fancy equipment.  I have arrived here because of my passion.

I hope that I can inspire one impassioned photographer out there who is in a position like mine, to never hold back because of it. Or even remind a seasoned expert that sometimes less is more. Van Gogh made masterful paintings using just one medium, you too can make magic with “just one lens”.

just one lens photo
just one lens photoHeather Lazark, California
CM Mentor
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Lover of light and of all things creative, Heather’s photographic inspiration began just before the birth of her oldest of two adorable – yet feisty – daughters. While photography began for the California native as a means of capturing precious family moments, it quickly blossomed into an intensely creative gateway to her soul. As a full-time mom and a part-time career woman, she is often compelled to stay up past midnight in order to squeeze in her photography time. Aside from capturing treasured moments with her Canon 5D, she enjoys Crossfit, country music, paleo eating, personal growth, belly-laughing and spending quality time with her family.

Read all photography tutorials from Heather Lazark.

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99 Responses to “just one lens”

  1. Heather
    Jun 17 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    I am so grateful for this posting. Lately I’ve been feeling guilty for only using this lens. Now I don’t feel bad!

  2. Jessica Reischel
    Jun 18 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Beautiful blog post! Thank you Heather!

  3. cblayloc
    Jun 18 2013 at 10:18 am #

    beautiful post and beautiful images to go with it! Thanks so much for sharing with us!!

  4. Jun 18 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    This is my “one” lens too, minus a few kit lenses I NEVER use and a once-in-a-blue-moon rental. It’s so versatile (not to mention light). I love seeing what you’ve done with it! Thanks, this was very reassuring!

  5. Jun 18 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    What a wonderful reminder that our art resides in ourselves, not within the equipment we hold. Thanks Heather!

  6. Jun 19 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    Thank you thank you! I have been so caught up in “I need this” in order to be “a professional” lately that I have lost sight of why I do this. The beauty in an image is not in the lens choice! I think I am going to swear off all my “stuff” for the month and shoot with just my 50. Thank you – I needed this!

  7. czarina
    Jun 20 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    thanks for sharing heather! i would’ve never thought you’ve only used one lens. you are truly gifted my friend. you know i am one of your many fans. i’m glad to have found you here on cm. hoping to meet you in person soon on one of our bay area cm meets.

  8. Jun 26 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    Love this post! i can really resonate with this because I have a 5D mark ii and te 50mm 1.4 lens myself. Like you, I make it work. When I have a session I typically rent one other lens but sometimes being limited can make you grow creatively.

  9. Jun 29 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    I have to agree with you 100%. I only used my kit Nikon D3000 and was able to get published in magazines using that and my 70-200 kit lens. Your camera is a tool.. and even a small nail can create statues. It’s not the tool… it’s the person using it.
    great post.


  10. Janet
    Jul 02 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    This is me. It’s like you took the words from my mouth. I have saved to upgrade to a Canon 60D and my 18-270 tamron lens. Thank you for speaking for the budget minded. Life is Simple – Shoot it.

  11. Jul 04 2013 at 9:07 am #

    Oh Heather! Thank you! Here I was thinking having the one lens was holding me back, but you’re right, keeping it simple & learning to use what you have can work! Thanks for the inspiration x

  12. Kira
    Jul 08 2013 at 11:42 am #

    You’re inspiring Heather! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and passion with us!

  13. Jul 08 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Wow! Your photos are amazing. Thank you for sharing. I have a 50/1.8 that I use most of the time. The problem I run into is that I have to back up really far to get everything in my shot sometimes. Do you ever have that problem? I’d be interested to hear how you combat that.

    • Jul 10 2013 at 4:19 am #

      Thank you, Amanda. I tend to favor details a lot of the time. So my 50mm is perfect for those. If I need to back up, I just try to get creative. I’ve been known to climb on a kitchen counter or table from time to time, just to get more space. :) Hope this helps.

  14. Jul 09 2013 at 9:19 am #

    This is a fantastic post. There are so many gadgets out there that it is easy to feel like you NEED everything. I feel the same way about my 85mm 1.8.

  15. Jul 09 2013 at 11:13 am #

    Lovely images! I recently wrote a similar blogpost on my site about using just one lens (also my 50mm 1.4) to photograph our Disney cruise. It’s not always about how much gear you have! It’s how you use what you have.

  16. Elizabeth
    Jul 09 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    I love this article and have heard so many people that love their “Nifty Fifty”. I have the Canon 50mm 1.8. However… I must not know how to use it. The majority of my shots are always out of focus. Especially if I am trying to do a group of people or a shot that I have to back up far away to get.

    What am I doing wrong??

    • Jul 10 2013 at 4:25 am #

      Hi Elizabeth. There are several variables to consider when talking about focus. Do you use back button focus? Is your aperture closed down enough to include all of your subjects? Sounds to me like you might have your depth of field too shallow in your examples above. If you post your image and settings in the forum there are lots of folks who can help you with this!!!

  17. cassie
    Jul 09 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    This is exactly where I am! My one lens is the 50mm 1.8 on my canon rebel, but it’s very difficult to use indoors with the crop sensor. I’ve been debating for months to make due with what I have vs. get a 28mm (or even consider a zoom lens)…

  18. Amanda
    Jul 12 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    So glad I found this article. I have been struggling lately with these same variables and needed some encouragement. Thanks for writing!!

  19. Aug 07 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Came here from our fliker M4H’s pool. I am on your same boat girl. I feel like i can do so much with my Rebel and my one lens. I did upgrade to an 85 for sharpness but i do feel sometimes if i should not be a proffessional because i do not own the equipment! Your work is amazing! Thanks for sharing!

    • Aug 15 2013 at 3:02 am #

      Thank you, Gracie. I know of several pros that shot with a Rebel for quite a while.

  20. Sep 05 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    Thank you for this post! This weekend, I felt like a novice. I had a photo session for a friend and her husband took out his camera, which the body itself was bigger than my Rebel camera. He stood there taking photos throughout my photo session, along with two others.

    Throughout the night, his wife would ask ME questions and HE would answer them.

    I felt really small and I’m going to be very honest. I was intimidated by his camera and attitude. I didn’t know, what to do, and I forgot to take my time and do things right.

    I, too, can’t afford all the “real” photographers equipment and that whole session was really discouraging.

    You are right, it’s our passion that makes us grow and now, I feel proud of myself. I have grown and am anxious to continue to. I need to start listening to my viewers and stop focusing on my lack of equipment and allowing it to get in my way of blossoming to my full potential.

    Thank you for helping me to see this :-)

    • Sep 22 2013 at 2:00 am #


      I think that situation could make any photographer uncomfortable. Sounds like you handled it well, and even used it as an opportunity to grow. Passion and hard work can supersede fancy equipment any day!

  21. Jonathan
    Sep 23 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    I came across this article after concluding that despite buying and using many lenses I’d be happy with just my Rokkor 50mm 1.7 (on a 35mm Minolta XD5) and was curious if anyone else felt the same way about their 50mm.

    Your images have a very classic look, I especially like the feet.

    So much is possible with a fast or even moderately fast normal lens, it is a great shame that when most photographers start out they don’t have a lens that allows them to use this field of view and effectively limit the depth of field.

  22. Arcy
    Oct 21 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    Thank you… you’ve motivated me to keep exploring with my camera and lens and not see it as holding me back.

    • Nov 21 2013 at 11:56 am #

      I’m so happy to hear that, Arcy!!

  23. tkmk
    May 07 2014 at 8:41 am #

    I am in the same predicament in terms of lenses, so it was very exciting/inspiring/encouraging to read an article like this from such an amazing photographer. I shall be sticking with my Nikkor 35mm 1.8 and seek to improve my ability to take good pictures instead :D

  24. TK
    Jun 22 2014 at 9:02 pm #

    Something I have a problem with is space. SO often a clients home I simply do not have enough room to use my 50, even though it’s my best, newest & favorite. It’s quite frustrating.

  25. Tram Patam
    Jun 22 2014 at 10:10 pm #

    So awesome and so inspirational! Thank you for sharing your story!!

  26. Michele
    Jun 22 2014 at 10:43 pm #

    I have too many lenses and I could certainly learn more about the art! I have the same lens and I am trying to love it now that I have a full frame. I am inspired to put that lens on my camera for a few weeks and get to know it better. Thank you for this post!

  27. Lili Nis
    Jun 23 2014 at 3:22 am #

    Thank you so much Heather for sharing

  28. Jul 09 2014 at 9:09 am #

    Beautiful photos and great message. Plenty of great photographers stick to one lens and concentrate on the photography rather than collecting lenses.


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