the lens that changed my life & business

by Mary Jane

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I spent a good half of my career trying to find my style. And if you’ve been in the business at all or are trying to get into it – you know what I’m talking about. It’s the question that echos relentlessly through every photography forum or any worthy photography workshop.

What’s your style? Have you defined your style? Or in my case, Do you have ANY style?

Actually, I think I spent half of my career resisting the whole “style” thing. I thought maybe, just maybe, I didn’t have to have just one style. Maybe I was the exception. Maybe I was a woman of too many visions and too many talents – haha, riiiiiight?!?!?!?!??! Or maybe I was being lazy. Or just plain stubborn.

Everyone finds their style in a different way. And I’ve learned over the years (at least for me) – that someone’s style really just comes down to confidence. Confidence I tell you! When you have true confidence in yourself and your art – then you have style. When you have the confidence to say,“These are the types of photos that I take and I know exactly how to create them – every.single.time.” That is style. That is confidence.

When the 50mm 1.2 lens entered my life 6 years ago – I found my style. Never limit where, when or how you might discover or find your niche. I never really thought a lens could help define me or my business – but it did!

The 50mm 1.2 became my eye to world. It enabled me to tell the stories that I wanted to tell. 50mm was the perfect focal length, it allowed me to include elements in the story that were essential (to me) and simultaneously exclude elements that I didn’t want. It wasn’t too long or too wide for my vision. It was perfect.

But, what I really loved was the freedom that it gave me to shoot wide open. My sweet spot falls at about f1.8. There is nothing I love more than a backlit portrait at f1.8 mixed with a healthy dose of some raw emotion. That’s my style. And I can create it and do it – every single time. I have confidence in that.

I love the buttery, soft look that I can create with my 50mm 1.2. It has become a big part of my vision and what I love to capture. But, as much as I love that soft, buttery look – there also has to be something in the photo that is 100% completely tack sharp – even if it just the eyes. So I guess I’m someone who has to have a little bit of both – that’s not asking too much is it? A little soft romance, with some clarity on the side…

I can honestly say that for my wedding and portrait shoots, I use my 50mm 1.2 lens 85-90% of the time. Now, at weddings I will have a second shooter getting close-ups, wide shots, etc. (to make sure that everything is covered). But, I have come to know that my strength is in what I can capture with the 50mm. So why fight it?

Sooooo…I have to ask?!?!?? What’s your style? And how did you find it? Or are you still looking (because that’s o.k. too)?


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