Creating Style

The convenience of the zoom lens has severely crippled even killed creative style.

You hear of photographers referring to their style and how it has developed over time.  The established photographers with a style claim it sets them apart, while the new photographers toil to create their own.  It is rare that you have a photographer comment on how that style was developed or achieved.

As a beginner in the world of photography, one is looking for the most performance for the least amount of money; this where the zoom lens enters the scene.  Able to cover a wide range of focal lengths and offering the convenience of re-composing without moving, the zoom lens becomes the obvious purchase.  The zoom is reasonably priced and it allows the novice to cover a wide range of subjects and categories very economically.  In the process it brings to a halt the user’s development of style.

With the ability to zoom the lens, there is no need to move to recompose a shot.  With the zoom much less attention is given to the distance between camera and subject.  In the end the user does what is easiest and most convenient.  This spells disaster for the beginner who needs to develop a style.  The resulting photographs lack consistency, and there is no definitive appearance to the images.  The lack of thought and effort shows in the final shot.

As difficult as it may be the solution is to shoot with a fixed focal length (prime) lens.  I feel it is important to concentrate on one prime lens, a 50mm for instance and shoot extensively with it.  Shoot thousands of images with it before moving to a different focal length prime lens.  This forces the photographer to learn what the lens is going to do, how it will frame a shot, and what the depth of field will look like.  In the process one begins to develop a style.

Once the first lens is mastered it is time to move to the next prime lens, not a zoom.  Try a 20mm, or 35mm, maybe move up to an 85mm, but the process is the same as before.  As each lens is mastered a style is developed.  Once that style is established then one can move to a zoom lens and maintain the consistency because of the knowledge and expertise gained.

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