All you need is one lens..
I am a minimalist. I like to keep things really simple. So for you who just got a camera for Christmas you may be wondering about what to do with your new device.
For those who do not yet have a camera but would like one, you might be asking, “What camera should I buy?” This is the most commonly asked question I get but the real question should be, “what lens (not lenses) should I start with”?
Before you read on, keep in mind that keeping it simple requires a little grit. I generally believe the man makes the machine. I love movies like Rocky where a hanging beef is used to train to fight the heavy weight boxing champion. I believe most people can do so much more with what they have but just don’t. Marketing has led many to believe that the power lies in the product, not in the person. Having said that, read on…
In the year 2000 I was photographing for a magazine and I bumped into a photographer who was shooting with what I considered a crappy camera. His images were amazing and I was intrigued at this veteran so I asked why he shot with such a low end camera. His answer was, “I put my money in my lenses”. Well for the last decade we have gone through a period of rapid change in digital cameras and we are at the point now where most of the new cameras take great, high quality images. Throughout this period one thing has not changed though, lenses are king. Don’t get me wrong, there are other factors to consider when buying a new camera but when it comes to quality we are getting pretty amazing stuff with prosumer cameras now days. I still shoot with a 12 megapixel camera and I prefer it to the new 24 megapixel camera that is the replacement. The “x” factor is in the lens.
I have recommended one lens specifically when people ask. It is the 50 mm 1.8 lens. It is right around $100 for both Nikon and Canon and it is a great place to start. It does not zoom but that is what legs are for right? What it will give you is some really shallow depth of field (that blurry look in the background). Mmm hmmm!! Most cameras that budding photographers buy come with a kit lens like the 18-55 3.5-4.5 for example. It is likely you will be disappointed to discover that these lenses are often not what you are hoping for. Lenses are so much more important than the hype and gimmicks that it breaks my heart to see people coming home with filters and tripods and accessories that professionals rarely use except in rare cases. A little education can go a long way.
I have not owned a zoom lens in years. There are some great zoom lenses so I cannot fault them, but I am a simple man and I travel light. I want clean, crisp, beautiful images and so I use prime lenses only. I always keep in mind that there have been photographers who came before me who have produced far better images with less than I have now. My pursuit is internal, not external. My first question is always how do I become a better photographer? Is it me or the equipment? Some times it is the equipment but often it is me. Having limitations on my equipment makes me a better photographer, more creative and resourceful. I encourage you to do the same.
All taken with either my 50 mm 1.4 or my 85 1.8, Nikon D700:
I just bought a camera that is dedicated solely to taking pictures of my family and friends. I love everything about it but mostly it makes me excited to get out and take pictures with my family, often.
I am a believer that any picture of your kids is better than no picture at all and I encourage you to get out and take as many as you can with whatever you have. However, I don’t just want quantity, I want some real great pictures that will really last a long time and I want it in an actual photo album. For me this does the trick. The challenge is, it costs me $1.50 per picture I take because it is a film camera no longer in production. It sounds counter intuitive but that is what gets me out taking pictures for fun.
It is a challenge!!
When you have to spend $1.50 per shot for film and developing it really makes me think about what I am doing. It changes the way you look at lighting, composition and location. You don’t waste shots. I don’t expect everyone to understand, all I know is that it works for me. It thrills me!! It also makes me a better digital photographer. I can’t wait to get my favorite people in front of the camera. These are a few shots from my first roll of film.
My mom texted me today to tell me to block out a date to go to my gramma’s for an easter egg hunt up in Firth, Idaho. I texted back, “You better not be playing with me!” The reality is I don’t know one of my cousins who wouldn’t drop a trip to Disneyland, Europe or a guaranteed sighting of Elvis and Michael Jackson combined to go to my grandma’s farm. In my first year of marriage we discovered that my wife’s best friend was getting married the weekend we were scheduled to go to Grammas. I said, “That sucks we won’t be able to go to her wedding! We can send her a card.” I was not joking and that is the funny thing. I really thought she would choose grandmas over her friends wedding. Lucky for us she had read the date wrong. I think knowing what she knows now she would have chosen grandmas. In fact, I know she would.
My grandpa turned 94 last week so we can’t go up as often and so a personal invitation is like being invited into an inner circle that only a few can enter. He is still strong as an OX but we are a big group.
The amount and quality of the traditions that occur on the farm are as impossible to describe as it is trying to understand North Korea (only in a good way). Certain things have never changed. We typically go around Easter and Labor Day.
Labor Day means Eastern Idaho State Fair time. There is no fair like it in all the world!! We go out with the cousins in packs likes wolves only stopping for Tiger Ears and Ice Cream Cones at Reed’s Dairy (Huckleberry is off the charts) and an occasional foot long corn dog or Turkey Drum (not recommended). We have had the fortune of passing this tradition on to our children who in turn can’t wait to go to the fair each year for their own individual reasons.
If you have been to the Eastern Idaho State Fair you join an instant fellowship I have found. If you have ever seen the Alligator wrestler, monkey’s who do back flips while riding small ponies, Mexican Trapese Acrobats or the arm wresting competition where it is a prerequisite to wear Wranglers and have a Tobacco ring on your back pocket just to make it on stage, you understand what I am talking about. I LOVE AMERICA! Give me a shout out if you have experienced the EISF!
I love watching my wedding clients start their own families. I photographed Eric and Caroline’s wedding in 2008 I think and we do an annual family portrait and it has been fun watching kids grow up.
Last year Savannah and Daniel came up for a photo shoot with their son. You may remember their wedding I posted which took place in Chicago in 2009. Great friends!
I think I have always enjoyed wedding because at the heart it is really about family and the beginning of a new family.
The terrible twos are one of the biggest lies parents are told and perpetuate. My wife and I decided long ago that we would not perpetuate that myth in our home. We have never had a terrible two year old.Take a look at that face!
Happy Birthday Vera!!
Taken with my big ol’ Mamiya film camera at Tony Grove this summer.