When we do an online conference, we usually wrap up the conference with a live Q&A session with each of the conference instructors (it’s way more fun and entertaining than it sounds, and our attendees love it). During these sessions you’ll invariably get a question like:

“Yesterday morning, Instructor [insert name here] said their favorite lens for shooting portraits was a 50mm, but in your session you said you wouldn’t recommend a 50mm lens for portraits, and then another instructor said they use it for weddings, but not for anything else. So, which one of you is correct?”

This type of conflicting information happens every day, all day, in the photography community, and the best place to see it in action is in your social media news feed, where one headline will read, “This is the only lens you need to take amazing landscape photos” and then 30-seconds later another headline scrolls by stating, “These are the three landscape lens every serious landscape photographer must own.” So, do I need one lens or three? Who’s right?

First, are those headlines “clickbait?

No. Neither of them are (even though folks who don’t fully understand the meaning of “Clickbait” would accuse them of being just that). Clickbait is a headline or photo that is deceptive or misleading. It’s designed to trick you into clicking on the article and then it doesn’t deliver what it says it would. If you clicked on that “The one lens you need…” article, you can bet they would tell you which lens it is and why they chose it. You may not agree with it, but that doesn’t make it deceptive or misleading.

The Bottomline

The bottomline is — the reason we get such conflicting info on all these topics is — what you’re reading (or hearing) are opinions. The person who wrote the “This is the only lens you need…” believes that’s all you need. The person who said you need three, believes you need three. These two writers could sit at the bar and argue their point until last call, and there would be no clear winner because they are their opinions based on their experience. If you can get the job done with one lens great, but if you the article and think three might better, that’s OK, too. The vast majority of what we read today about photography are opinion pieces, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable.

There is no “International Council of What’s Right in Photography” (That would be the ICWRP, which is an awful acronym and probably the real reason behind why their is no ICWRP). We’re all just trying to make informed decisions on gear and technique, and my goal is to seek out people’s whose opinions I can trust.

If Moose Peterson says a particular piece of gear is good, I know it’s good. I’ve followed his advice for years and it’s served me well. Same with Terry White. If Terry’s jazzed about it, I know I will be, too. Same for Joe McNally, Rick Sammon, Karen Hutton, Frank Doorhof, Tracy Sweeney, Dave Black — the list goes on, but these are people whose OPINIONS I trust. They all don’t always agree with each other, which is why, at the end of the day, we’re ultimately the one who has the final say. We gather up the info from our trusted sources, we see which ones make the most sense for us — for how we shoot and what we shoot, and we try to make the best choice we can. What I love about these photographers I trust is — their advice is real world stuff. It’s not about nerd tech specs or stuff measured on an oscilloscope in a lab environment. They just tell like it is, and that’s what I need to hear.

I’ve been doing this my whole career — taking in guidance from different sources I trust, and rarely have I been led astray, but even if a particular choice didn’t work out for me…it doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right choice for them.

I hope that helps shed a little light on why we have such conflicting and just straight up different info out there on everything from which camera, lens, technique, light, and even brand of memory card we all should be using. By the way — the one you should be using is whichever one I mention here on the blog. ;-)

Hope your Monday is a great one!

-Scott

About The Author

Scott is a Photographer, bestselling Author, Host of "The Grid" weekly photography show; Editor of Photoshop User magazine; Lightroom Guy; KelbyOne.com CEO; struggling guitarist. Loves Classic Rock and his arch-enemy is Cilantro. Devoted husband, dad to two super awesome kids, and pro-level babysitter to two crazy doggos.

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