Congratulations! A foundation has just awarded you one year of working on your photography full time. You will be generously paid, and any travel expenses will be met (although you don't have to travel). Subject is entirely up to you, no limitations there. You get the services of an assistant to help with cataloguing, image processing, and other routine chores, if you so choose. Any outside lab fees will be paid in full. Furthermore, your boss has agreed to let you take the sabbatical and your regular job will be waiting for you one year from now. A vehicle can be provided should you need it. The only caveat is that you have to choose one camera and one lens which you agree to work with exclusively. Paid for by the foundation, of course. You don't get to keep the camera or lens at the end of the year. The photos (and rights) are all yours.
Would you accept such an arrangement? If so, which camera and lens would you choose? Please be specific! Finally, do you already own that camera and lens?
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Featured Comments from:
marek fogiel: "I suspect this provocative question will have many answers...I would definitely go with a medium format camera (I mean film camera obviously). The most beautiful and flexible lens I know of is the Hasselblad Zeiss Planar 110mm ƒ/2, which works just fine on the Hasselblad 201f. I own both."
John Prendergast: "Given that there are no caveats whatsoever to this arrangement anyone would be foolish not to bite.
"I like the idea of the Fuji X-E1 and their 35mm ƒ/1.4; this is not too different from what I use regularly today, the Nikon D5100 and the 35mm ƒ/1.8 (DX).
"What would I do, well, let's stretch the rules a tad. As Steve D commented that he would go to the ISS, I'll take it one step further. I would like to photograph the moons of Jupiter. Impractical, you say? On the contrary, I figure if 50% of the world's GDP is diverted to constructing a nuclear pulse drive or fusion rocket, one could get there and back within the year...totally practical.
Cost of camera ~$1,300
Travel expenses ~$30 Trillion
"If there is some fine print about how the photographer many not divert more than 1% of the world's GDP towards their own, um...narcissism, then I would just travel around the world."
robert e (partial comment): "Of course I'd accept. I'll be honest—if someone's footing the bill, travel itself would be as much motivation as photography. I'd want to go everywhere, though a year isn't that long if one wants to get to know places and people...."
Matt Miller: "I'd take an 8x10 Ebony and a nice 12-inch Dagor. Man, do I miss contact printing."
scott kirkpatrick: "A year in which to turn what I see into pictures in the simplest way possible? No problem. A new Leica M and the latest Summilux 35mm ƒ/1.4—they see pretty much what I see when I look around. And I already have them. Not giving them back at the end of the year, thank you very much. "
struan: "I like work which commits time and attention to one small place over an extended period of time. If someone were willing to underwrite the project I would want use one of my existing cameras—which I know well—and my habitual short tele. I would aim to build a visual impression of what is like to start out with fresh eyes and gradually come to know a single subject really well. There are quite a few such projects in the canon, but none, I feel, which do justice to a subject close to my heart, one which I am certain would result in a significant contribution to the history of the medium. So I would keep it simple. Just me, my 6x6, and a full year at the Ritz."
Mike replies: You forgot to add the rimshot at the end there. [g]
Jack (partial comment): "I did this in 2010 but without the assistant and I kept the camera at the end. It was a Leica S and a 35mm S. Three years later I use the same camera but still no assistant."
Terry Letton: "I'm afraid I would have to decline such an offer. The thought of being tied to only one lens for a whole year would be stifling. Ever since my first SLR freed me from captivity to the not-so-nifty 50, I enjoyed being able to change up once in a while which never fails to enliven my results. The rest of the offer is very enticing, but no, I'll pass."
S. Chris: "Can't imagine anyone reading this far down the comments, and if they do, sheesh, yet another Leica M with 35mm ƒ/1.4.... How boring....
"To spice it up and to take advantage of the circumstances (free lab!), I'd make it an M6 TTL, probably with the .58 finder. And loads of Portra 160 and 400, and Tri-X. Scanned by real experts on something like top o' the line Imacon gear.
"I'd spend at least half the year knocking around Java, Ternate, maybe Flores, a few more out-of-the-way bits.... Then either carry on, or head to the other end of the globe and crawl around Morocco for the remainder.
"The heartbreak would be parting with such a fine camera after a year of getting to know it well. But I do after all have my own M6 and M9 to go back to, though the M6 needs some work and is the standard .72 finder....
"Interestingly, the part about this that is the most appealing to me (also the only part I haven't basically done already) is having the assistant. I imagine someone who would be a truly gifted photo editor, helping me to discover things in my work I am blind to myself...."