On a Budget: Portrait Lenses for Your DSLR

Chris Gampat The Phoblogrpaher Tamron 45mm f1.8 other review images (2 of 4)ISO 4001-1250 sec at f - 4.0

Photography, one way or another, is an expensive hobby. But you don’t need to rob a bank to get really incredible photos. No matter what, that starts with a creative vision, and to that end you can create incredible images with affordable gear. Don’t believe me? Look at the site’s many interviews: most of those folks don’t use the highest top of the line gear but instead focus more on achieving their creative vision with what they have.

If you’re looking to get into portraits, these lenses will help you get a great start.

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Chris Gampat sony c3 awesome image (1 of 1)

“I think it’s different with you, Chris.” said one of the models that I shoot the other day when we went out for sushi after collaborating. “This guy just did it out ot nowhere and you at least make eye contact, smile and don’t come off to anyone as creepy.” We were talking about street photography after I was explaining to her an idea that I have for La Noir Image. There is a whole mountain of truth in what she said though. Women in public are typically photographed by men who just want to stare at them–and so that makes them defensive when a photo is taken of them in public. But it’s not only women–it’s with children and sometimes even men.

But at the same time it contrasts with the public’s insatiable love with street photography–just look at Instagram.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master Lens (8 of 11)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

Years ago, two companies did something very big for the lens manufacturing world in the photo industry. Those two companies were Zeiss and Sigma. Zeiss announced and released the Otus 55mm f1.4 while Sigma revamped with the Global Vision and dropped the 35mm f1.4 Art lens. Both exhibited major strides forward in lens design and manufacturing. For years, the industry hadn’t seen anything that sharp, contrasty, etc.

Then everyone else started to catch up.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II first impressions images (12 of 22)ISO 2001-250 sec at f - 1.7

“It’s less this, and more this…” said an archival rep to me at Magnum Photos years ago when I interned there, first motioning to shooting photos and second motioning to talking by using hand gestures. That piece of advice is still ranked amongst the most important lines I’ve heard about the industry.

One of the most common things that you’ll hear photographers state is “I can do that too!” For example, think about the Peter Lik sale: many other photographers came out and literally stated “I can do that too.” Typically though, this is associated more with the means of capturing an image rather than creating a scene or an idea.

And you’re right. You can do it too. You, and everyone else with a camera, a knowledge of manual mode, an idea of how metering in a scene actually works, compositional framing, and Photoshop knowledge can totally create that image by yourself, at your home.

But did you? And are you a photographer with a famous name in the art world?

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All images by Dan Bannister. Used with permission.

Photographer Dan Bannister is all about not only doing creative photo projects, but he also understands the the importance of networking. When he did The Blacksmiths and #WokeUpLikeThis, he understood that he needed to get eyes on his work–so he contacted me. But Dan also knows just how important to it is for people to know about what you’re doing. So every year, he mails a sketchbook called the Assistants. It goes out to art director, designer friends and clients every year. “The theme is ‘The Assistants’ because the book contains images of light tests with assistants from various commercial and editorial shoots, paired with the final finished image we were actually shooting for the client.” says Dan. He’s been doing it for four years.

After a couple of years, he gets calls from designers and art directors reminding him to send them one. “I get designers asking for an opportunity to design it because there’s so much latitude and opportunity to really make it their own.”

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer 4V Design Lusso Slim brown and cyan product images review (1 of 9)ISO 2001-125 sec at f - 2.0

In 2016, I’d like to think that film finally became a respected format again that lives as its own individual medium. For the most part, that’s true in the artistic end of the photography world–but there are still those that associate it with being hipster, inadequate, and in no way superior to digital. Those beliefs couldn’t be any further from the truth. It’s a tougher medium to master (along with all the other analog mediums): but in today’s day and age there isn’t a single photographer whose entire career (all the way to the end of it) has been founded on and fully digital.

Film, instead, just reminds us of the absolute truth of photography: there are abysmal digital photographers and there are abysmal film photographers. Then there are those who excel no matter what medium they choose.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Photojojo Iris Lens review product images (2 of 8)ISO 2001-60 sec at f - 2.8

In 2016, photographers have many different avenues and routes to reach their audience. There is Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, your blog, your website, etc. Each of them function like a little community with the sole goal of bringing attention back into you: the governing body. Each of them also have different purposes and may even attract different folks in the way that they function. But in that line of thought, each of them has to be inherently different too. Depending on the type of photographer you are, your Instagram shouldn’t be your website. If your Instagram has anything else besides portraiture, it’s going to confuse your potential clients and followers.

As it stands, an Instagram can’t really take the place of a dedicated website. To that end, your blog can’t either.

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All images by Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz. Used with permission.

Photographer Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz is world famous for lots of the work that he’s done. It started with the Milky Pinups, then the Splash Wars, and before all that was the Bamboo Forest. They’ve all used liquid and milk to create shapes and clothing on people. But now, he’s releasing a brand new series. It’s called Fallen Angels, and is being released in a Calendar for those interesting in purchasing it.

For Jaroslav, Fallen Angels has a very deep and personal importance. A couple of years back, his mother got breast cancer and she is still fighting it. But he also lost a lot of people who were very dear to him. “You can find in that set images related to my mother battle with breast cancer, cases of severe depression in my family, my gay friends that were moving from country to country to find their peace, soldiers coming home wounded from a warfares or simply my fear of constantly passing time.” says Jaroslav about the project. Fallen Angels is his personal ode to all of them.


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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Cinestill 800T sample photos (29 of 31)

For many years, photographers and instructors have always said that you need to go shoot during the golden hour. Lots of photographers still do whether it be street photography, portraits, landscapes, etc. The Golden Hour does something that can give your images a natural sunkissed look to them that yes, I’ll admit is beautiful when done just right.

But in all truthfulness, no one NEEDS the Golden Hour. Modern cameras, lenses and image editing software these days have such good technology that a great photo can be taken at any time.

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On Shooting from the Hip in Street Photography

chris gampat the phoblographer leica m9p review (3 of 15)

In the street photography world, there is a big debate that while seemingly frivolous, is worth talking about for ethical reasons. It involves photographers shooting from the hip: which many have done for years and produced incredible images while doing it. Their case: it helps them to get the images they need with a different perspective and while not disrupting what happens in front of them.

The other photographers need to bring the camera to their eyes to shoot. Their case: it helps them to get a better idea of what they’re shooting and also helps them develop a bit of a rapport with the subject. It also in some ways, makes them look less creepy to the general public.

And then there are some that say to use the viewfinder simply because of some unknown standard of being better than one another.

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