Why I Only Use One Lens for My Portfolio

This is far from a "why you should do this" video, more a "why I do this." I want to talk about how I accidentally ended up shooting my whole portfolio with a single lens, even though commercially, I use many.

It is worth noting that my income is from shooting adverts, where having a very clear signature style in my portfolio is very important. It should also be mentioned that my work is created in a very controlled environment where I can have as much light as I like from wherever. So a f/0.9 lens doesn't really offer me a lot. 

The lens itself isn't all that important, more the choice to do so. In this video, I talk about why and how I ended up working this way. What is interesting is the impact it has had on my career. I was booked for some very big campaigns and signed with a new agent. I am sure this isn't the only variable, but it was part of my change in work that led me in that direction. My choice has been a 100mm lens on a 35mm sensor. If I were a wedding photographer, perhaps a 35mm lens would have been my go-to. 

Do you find you work with a specific lens more for personal work than paying work?

Scott Choucino's picture

Food Photographer from the UK. Not at all tech savvy and knows very little about gear news and rumours.

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My favorite lens because of its field of view on my 645Z is the 55mm. I’ve naturally been accustomed to it for my portraits and have ended up using it for the majority of my sessions for both medium and close up shots.

Scott, Thanks for that little bit of insight into your personal portfolio workflow. I too find that 90% of my professional and personal work is done using one lens, a 90mm Tilt-Shift. At first I thought it was weird listening to other photographers spout off all the lenses they had and then me just saying; "Well I have a 90 tilt-shift, a 50mm and a 24-70." I am in the process of redoing my portfolio and your videos have been a helpful reminder to stay focused on what type of work I want to shoot professionally in the future.

The interesting issue this brings up is that we naturally see the world from a certain visual perspective, and this would find an equivalence in angle of view or focal length. I use 120mm with 4x5 and 35mm with full frame and these cover about 75% of the creative work I do. It is very important to discover this relationship between your mind's eye and the camera. I saw an article recently where the presenter said he only needs 3 lenses for landscape work, at wide angle zoom, a mid range zoom and a telephoto zoom - sorry I can't think of a word to describe this degradation of our craft.

Well he has three lenses, covering 184 focal lengths so kind of a stupid comment... :

This was great. The focal length choice is, to me, at the top of the list that define a photographers personality and intent.
I find myself, oddly enough, in the 40mm camp. I say 'oddly' because at the moment, I don't have a 40mm. I end up shooting mostly with a 50, and then still often enough with the old 35/85 combo depending on the need. I'm primarily a portrait photographer.
I've had two times around now with the Sigma 40mm Art for my Sony system and I find it to just be my perfect length, as it's closer to 42/43mm realistically.
My last one died unexpectedly, making me slightly wary of relying on another, so until either someone else (besides Zeiss with the problematic Batis) comes out with another good 40mm with AF, I'm quite fine with the 35 and 50 Sony/Zeiss', but yep, long story short, 40mm is the way I like to see things.

I remember when I used to read articles. Those were good times.

Very good presentation.
Makes me pause on GAS which I have but not acted upon.
Just spent yesterday also with my 100mm f2.8 Macro L IS. The fixed length and the thought on getting what I wanted there was no conflict.
Thank you for your thoughts, greatly appreciated.

Looks like you "see" with that lens, and since it looks like a lot of your portfolio work is of similar sized objects shot from a similar distance, it makes sense to stick with that lens, you know what it will look like without looking thru the camera.