Sam Hurd's Prisming Technique

Sam Hurd's Prisming Technique

I have been following the amazing photographer Sam Hurd for a little over a year now. I just recently recommend a good friend to have an anniversary shoot done by Sam and I was intrigued by the techniques I heard he used. Shortly after this Sam released a blog post sharing his method of Prisming and his secrets were out of the bag. I have given his method a try and I love the results.

Sam's technique with Prisming is achieved by simply holding a 3 sided prism flush with your lens and getting an interesting reflection in the photo with your original subject. You are able to bring other objects into your frame and bend some crazy light into the picture.

I recently assisted a photo shoot with Jon Lemon and had the chance to play around with this method. It was a a dull overcast day and I was dreading the atmosphere on the NYC High Line. I lined my photo up and popped the camera into live view so I could see a larger image. With a couple of twists and moving the prism to the top section of my lens pop, I got a great shot, at least in my eyes.

Jerrit Pruyn Wedding High Line Portrait Photography1

As you can see from the photo I simply reflected a side building over the top fourth of my photo, bam something different and not photoshoped. The effect works very well around trees and skies. Sam has truly master his technique as you can tell from his intriguing photos in almost any environment.

Below are photos Sam Hurd has given us permission to re-post. Here is the link to the same prism Sam uses: Prism, Equilateral 6" ~ Glass

To see more of Sam's amazing work check out his website. His recent write up on freelensing is up and is a great read.

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I really like happy accidents, Sam's work in general, and the fact that he's innovating with his epic portraits and this prisming technique, but I'm just not crazy about most of the results here. Still, I hope he continues to try to push the envelope with his work.

Cyberphox's picture


Cyberphox's picture

Nice try. Not sure whether I love the result though.. I think this technique won't be around for a long time. It sure does give some unique perspectives but it kind looks gimmicky.

Cyberphox's picture

Agree with Mike above. I hope Sam continues to try the push envelope. This doesn't work for me ,sorry.

hurd300403's picture

it's all about having tools in your bag and pushing yourself... sometimes it works.. sometimes it doesn't :)

C. Edward Brice's picture

I like to use some costume jewlery with color to add some light. i like these effects as it breaks up the same dull boring images you see from everbody and to your point it doent look Photoshop. As with anyhting less is more and you dont want to over use it but a few dabs of this brill creme will do ya nicely.

Susan Murtha Bandrowsky's picture

It looks a lot like the stuff that came out of the various Cokin filter systems in the 70s and 80s.  I think it's going to look dated and cheesy alarmingly quickly.  Shots of couples dancing in a champagne glass and selective coloring, anyone?

Sandy Phimester's picture

 It's been around for decades really. People were shooting through glass prisms or glass shapes for a long time to achieve "in camera" special effects, more or less the same thing. If used really well it could be a neat effect, in some cases yeah. I've seen some pretty incredible stuff when the light starts breaking apart into a rainbow effect across certain parts of the frame.

JP Zajackowski's picture

I'm not sure if I like it or not. There are a small handful of examples here that I think it works well with. That being said though, I'm loving the fact that Sam is looking outside of the box for new techniques and a new look. Also, if the client is happy, that's what really matters in the end (on the business side of things). Not quite my digs, but I still commend you Sam!

Michael Turcotte's picture

Susan beat me to it, but they used to make filters for this. I should go unpack my old photo books and revive all the tricks in blog posts.

For those looking to revive the "couple in a glass" on slide film in-camera, I can tell how to do that with a MF camera easily. 

Jr Miller's picture

Innovation is good...this seems a bit gimmicky to me though. Never know until you try something new.

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

Just so you know some fun facts, Sam is in a band known as the Prisms.

Ping Jintao's picture

Gorgeous technique ...

Emmanuel Duran's picture

this could be interesting for some photographer but i think is something that most of the client would think is a camera problem.

Tobias Solem's picture

Looks like a broken lens to me. :)

Lori Waltenbury's picture

I'm all about creative imagery but this just seems a little dated? It works about 10% of the time I'd say. Although really deters from the emotions of the people in the images. Some people in these images look just in a daze.. If I was to try out this technique, i'd be afraid my attention would be more spent on getting a cool effect rather than getting a good genuine expression from my subjects. 

any tutorial??

Mister Mike's picture

I think some of the images are kinda cool and unique, but it's like with any technique, you have to know when and where to use it.

Jens Marklund's picture

DigitalRev just posted this today

raz13's picture

I like to dabble with prisming now and then, particularly with engagement and wedding shoots. I have found that the results are about 50/50 as to how well they turn out. Good shots here. I agree though, I prefer it as a technique rather than a whole style.  

nice i like it.... but this is veeeery old technique =) 

Tristan Kinslow's picture

you cant polish a turd using hdr/prisming etc.. only a few shots will suit the effects.. cant mask an awful image to start with..

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

How are his images turds, I think you need to look at Sam's portfolio. 

JVP404's picture

I bet a lot of these haters be using Instagram filters on the daily. Thanks for sharing.

Not sure if this is prisming, but this looks fucking dope!

Salman Ahmad's picture

Great technique and amazing output! 

Michael Pravin Lonelyhound's picture

Brilliant Technique