4 Prime Lenses For the Discerning Portrait Photographer

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm X Pro 2 product images review (1 of 12)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

Portraits, by and large, are one of the most popular – at least in the general public – genres that a photographer could specialize in. There are many niches and specialties within that wide scope of portrait photography, but generally the same rules apply in regards to lens selection. That said, it’s not all about the 50mm and 85mm lenses of the world, so today we will share 4 prime lenses for the discerning portrait photographer.

So why would anyone shoot portraits with anything other than a 50mm or an 85mm? Simple, for more subject-background separation (on the telephoto side, think 135mm) or more environmental context (think on the wider side, 24mm or 35mm). There is a reason that 50mm and 85mm are popular choices, they are good at what they do for portraits – but they aren’t the be all end all of portrait shooting. So let’s get into those four lens recommendations.

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Vintage Camera Review: Hexar AF

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Hexar AF Review Product images  (4 of 12)ISO 4001-80 sec at f - 4.0

Few cameras will make a photographer’s mouth water like the Hexar AF. When it comes to some of the best point and shoot cameras that use 35mm film, it’s tough to get anything better (though there arguably are other options.) The Hexar AF is often said to be one of the best available for street photographers and has a fixed 35mm f2 lens stated to be a copy of a Leica Summicron. Everything about it is designed to be low profile.

The design of this camera is so good that it can be seen in many today–with it likeness most prominently compared to the Fujifilm x100 series of cameras. If you’re a street photographer, there’s a lot that you’ll like about this camera. In fact, even if you just want a fixed lens point and shoot, you’ll adore this camera. At the same time, there are things that could drive you a bit nuts if you crave more full control.

All film was generously processed by the Lomography Gallery store here in NYC. 

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How to Use an 85mm Lens for Natural Light Portraits

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Milvus review portrait extras (6 of 6)ISO 4001-500 sec at f - 2.2

Natural light is the choice of many photographers looking to render a specific look in a scene. It’s beautiful when use correctly–and it often is by many portrait photographers. When used by a photographer that acts very carefully about the images that they’re creating, it can inspire others and enthrall viewers with its captivation. But it isn’t always as simple as just going out in the golden hour and telling a portrait subject to stand there and look nice.

Instead, it’s a collaborative effort. And if you’re looking to get serious about portraiture, we recommend starting with an 85mm lens.

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Faces: Telling a Story Through Portrait Lighting

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All images by Joel Locaylocay. Used with permission.

Photo Essays is a series on the Phoblographer where photographers get to candidly speak their mind about a specific subject or project of theirs. Want to submit? [email protected]

I am most proud of the lighting that I did for my Faces project. This series is inspired by the look and feel of the portraiture of Dan Winters. Well, at least it started out that way. I surely didn’t have the equipment he was using. I lit my subjects using hot shoe flashes triggered off camera. And over the months that I worked on the series, I found that I had developed a look that I could call my own.

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Creating and Lighting Underwater Portraits

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All images by Tim Davis. Used with permission.

“My biggest fear is that I will become stagnant and stale so staying near the edge if not hanging over it is where I want to be most days.” says Photographer Tim Davis about his work. Perhaps this is why he got so into underwater portraits–because so few people do them. Tim was born and raised in Wichita, KS and has owned/operated Tim Davis Photography there for 13 years. He tells us that he has 4 beautiful 12 year olds, Joey, Aiden, Sam and Brenna who have helped him become the man and artist he is today.

Well..that and slosely watching photographers like Annie Leibovitz, Joe McNally, Sal Cincotta, etc.

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The Psychology of Creative Wedding Photography

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Photo Essays is a series on the Phoblographer where photographers get to candidly speak their mind about a specific subject or project of theirs. Want to submit? Send [email protected]

All images by Travis and Nina Tank. Used with permission. Be sure to also follow them on Instagram.

Something that I have spent the last few years trying to perfect in wedding photography is creating moments. Raw, real emotion is actually very difficult to achieve when you have a semi-stranger in your face expecting you to model. I have found there to be a significant difference in what sets photographers apart… there are ones who create moments and some that simply capture them. While yes we are all technically “capturing” moments, photojournalism in its purest form doesn’t tend to lend itself to the creative imagery that couples want or hire us for.

Those laughs that you see, the smiles and the people who look like they are having a good time are actually having a good time and laughing with us. This is the reason why few photographers seem to have more stiff imagery in their portfolio than authentic emotions. The good news? It only takes a simple switch in your mindset to completely change the way you view yourself as a photographer and how you capture any subject on the other side of your camera.

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Liquid: a Series of Creative Polaroid Photos (NSFW)

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All images by James Wigger. Used with permission.

Some of the coolest and most creative things in the photo world are often done with analog cameras and film– and some of the work of photographer James Wigger is a big testament to that statement. He was born in Farmington, Missouri in 1957 and has had work exhibited in Scotland, France and the Netherlands along with a number of galleries in the US while also having been featured in numerous magazines and books. James lives and works in Brooklyn, New York–which I guess you can say makes him one of the cool kids.

James has a very interesting method for what he calls his Liquid series. He would shoot an instant film photo, cut it open, spray liquid inside while it was developing, and look at the really cool and almost painteresque results.

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The Creative Mentality Behind Intimate Portraiture (NSFW)

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All images by Jason Bach. Used with permission.

“We live in a world where media & film censorship favors violence over the beauty of the naked form.” says photographer Jason Bach about how he got into intimate portraiture. “To me, its an appalling concept and should be reversed – we should be embracing and teaching younger generations that sexuality and nudity is natural and a much more positive representation of humanity than what violence offers.” You see, Jason isn’t one of those guys on the social interwebs using nudity to become Instafamous–he creates genuinely intimate, sensual and beautiful work.

Jason Bach is a wedding and commercial photographer who owns his studio The Photogenic Lab based in Denver, CO. He labels his distinctive style as “playful, innovative images that wrap stories into single moments.” Indeed, it makes a lot of sense. And when it comes to creating intimate scenes, he says that it’s all about the serious nature behind the work.

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