How I Work, Portraits

Out Of Focus Backgrounds pt II

Let’s take another look at those beautiful out of focus backgrounds, but this time with a couple portraits. Yes, I do portraits, not just weddings. In all these cases, I leveraged the power of my fast prime lenses. These are lenses that don’t zoom, the focal length is fixed so if I want to frame an image differently I have to change the lens or up and move closer or farther.

So, why use a prime lens over a zoom if it’s not as convenient? Well, those beautiful backgrounds for one. Because of the design of the optics, a prime lens will generally let me throw the background out of focus much more than any zoom would. The difference can be pretty dramatic, really.

Here we see two very similar photos. The one on the left is taken with a professional f/2.8 zoom while the photo on the right is shot with an f/1.4 prime lens. See the difference in background blur? You can see it even at web size but in 8×10 and larger prints the difference can be stunning.

(Click on the image for a larger view)

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That’s why I like to shoot with prime lenses whenever I can. There are other advantages as well; they’re smaller, lighter and less intimidating and they gather more light so I can work those dark receptions and churches that much better.

It’s not something most wedding photographers do because it simply takes more work and more energy to get the shot and – sorry to be blunt – a lot just don’t want to put in the extra effort because zooms are “good enough.”

I never want to be just “good enough.” That’s not who I am. I always strive to be a cut above. If putting in a little extra effort with prime lenses helps me get there, then I’m happy to do so.

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