It’s all messy. The hair, the bed, the heart … LIFE
As a portrait photographer, I have had a love/hate relationship with a 35 mm. A 35 mm is not, in my opinion, the best portrait lens. It can cause facial and body dissertations which are really unflattering. I was always after the “portrait.” I really love portraits, but enjoyed seeing the wide vastness of life through the eye of a 35 as I scanned through Instagram. Yet, it seemed foreign to me. It should feel comfortable to see as a 35 mm does because it is pretty close to what your eye naturally sees. But it isn’t how I learned to see through my camera, so I had to change the way I see.
It wasn’t until I put a 35 mm on and left there one weekend that I realized the true beauty. Before when I put the lens on, I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Because we capture portraits with long lenses and love that look I wanted to capture everything like that….even my everyday moments. But even my 50 mm lens (a beautiful lens by the way) captured only sections of my scene. It was really easy to take the image out of context. It was easy for me to just focus on the part of my home or life that was “put together.”
But what I saw that weekend when I just left my lens on is that when I “hide” the messy, mismatched, moody, or boring parts of my life with my lens I missed the beautiful and important. That weekend I just observed what was happening. I used it all weekend at home and on the go. I capturing not the traditional portraits with faces but the nontraditional likenesses of my kid’s spirits. I documented. Not curated. I observed. Not directed.
To be honest, it was liberating, yet very different. It was tougher. After all… I had to show it all. I really truly believe that shooting with a 35 mm as an assignment will make you a stronger photographer. Since you can’t necessary exclude you have to make the whole scene work (the light, the composition, and the subject.)
I saw my life differently. I saw my home differently. I wasn’t looking for the best light really or even the best background. I was just looking for interesting. I found that even on the most boring of days or with the most ordinary of activities there could be magic. You know how sometimes you have deja vu when it feels like you have experienced something before, often times with the 35 it is like I have pre-deja vu. Like I know that I am going to want to remember this to re-experience it again later. Is that weird?
This lens is a great lens to have and I love the way you can document with it. I guess I am coming to terms that even though I see lots of beautiful portraits with with lens, they aren’t portraits I take. I don’t see that way and have been struggling to see what I see when I look through a 135 mm lens when I look through a 35 mm lens.
DO YOU ADD THE 35 MM TO YOUR BAG?
YES. Or something like it. It has an important place in a mom’s camera bag. This lens may not fill up your walls, but it will fill up your albums. In the end, those albums are what will be passed down and shared. So go wide… go messy… and capture more than a cute outfit or a beautiful smile. Those things can be faked…but the stories of kids running in the backyard or playing in their bedrooms can only be really be told by showing the context and taking it all in.
WHEN TO USE YOUR WIDE ANGLE LENS
- When you want to show the big scene.
- To get shots from above like a child sleeping.
- Inside when you are limited on space
- On field trips or adventures out
TIPS FOR SHOOTING WITH A 35 MM LENS
Don’t stand too close or you really will distort who you are shooting (unless you want a fun crazy look!)
Get on their eye level. This will help keep their body in better proportions! Body parts closest to the camera will appear large. If you photograph a child from above their head will look bigger than their feet. Plus it is always good to get on a child’s eye level when taking a picture.
Take pictures of people doing things instead of a traditional portrait. Kids running and exploring make for great shots using a 35 mm lens.
Don’t stand too far back. Otherwise your child will look too little in the image.
Have fun! Shoot what you find interesting.