The 50mm lens is just awesome! Period.
When it comes to my favorite lenses, the 50mm lens is probably my favorite one of all time. It was one of the first lenses I purchased separately when I decided to get serious about photography and I’ve had one in my bag ever since. I remember reading that it was a good lens for food photography and at the time, I was just getting into blogging, so it was a no-brainer, I was buying a 50mm.
Like most new photographers, I started with the least expensive one, the Canon 50mm f/1.8 and learned it inside and out. Even though it wasn’t expensive, it changed my photography forever. I was finally beginning to understand photography and was taking photos I didn’t hate. After a few years, I finally upgraded to the Canon 50mm f/1.2, since it’s a lens I literally use every single day. And I absolutely love it. I hardly ever take it off my camera, it’s that good. In fact, here are some reasons why everyone should own a 50mm lens.
They’re inexpensive (for the most part)
You can pick up a good quality 50mm lens for not a ton of cash, making it the perfect lens for hobbyists or new photographers. When I was just getting started in photography, I couldn’t justify the expense of the f/1.2 lens, nor did I have a full-frame camera body to support it, so the less expensive lenses were my only option. I’ve actually owned (and since sold) both the f/1.8 and the f/1.4 and they both produced quality images. The professional 50mm f/1.2 however, is quite pricey, but is absolutely worth it when you’re ready for it.
The 50mm lens is really good in any situation. It is lightweight enough to carry with you everywhere and has a low enough aperture to take great shots in low-light situations. It’s also the lens that’s the closest to the human eye, so what you see in real life is what you will see in the photograph. I think that’s one reason I fell in love with it; that, and because you really can shoot anything with a 50mm.
They’re a great size
The 50mm is a compact little lens (at any price point) and they aren’t super heavy, which makes it a great walk around lens. It’s not long and clunky like some of the zoom lenses and it doesn’t take up much room in your camera bag (or purse) if it’s not in use.
They’re easy to work with
Since the 50mm is a prime lens, there’s really nothing to it. It’s fast and very user friendly, put it on, point, focus, shoot.
Bokeh, bokeh, bokeh
All the 50mm lenses I’ve shot with (the f/1.8, f/1.4, and the f/1.2) have produced beautiful bokeh in my photographs without much effort. They are crisp and sharp at lower apertures, allowing me to shoot wide open or close to it for a really soft, out-of-focus background, which I have always loved.
See, I told you I had some great reasons why everyone should own a 50mm lens! But let’s not forget my number one reason that I started off with, they’re just awesome! Do you own a 50mm? Do you love it?
Let’s talk about travel photography. This is not something I’m an expert on by any means, but it is something I LOVE to do. Only in the recent years have I started to figure out how to photograph our trips. I have always carried a camera with me when we’ve traveled, but my pictures were always lackluster. You know, the run of the mill travel photos that bore your friends and family to tears. I took that kind.
But, I wanted more, so I kept practicing and you know what, I eventually started taking the kind of pictures I enjoyed looking back at. They invoked emotion, and more importantly, memories. I suddenly loved looking back at my pictures, remembering the exact moment that photo was taken. Some of them would even give me tear up (in a good way!) or give me goosebumps.
The thing I found most helpful when documenting one of our trips was to remember that documentary photography is about details. Don’t be afraid to whip out your camera and photo the luggage, or the view out the airplane window as you soar away from home, or the gorgeous winding dirt road that’s off the beaten path on your road trip. Those little things will jog your memory and take you back, instantly.
So let’s get to it, here are my best tips for how to document your next trip.
Look for the details
Just like I mentioned above, the details are uber important. Photo everything. If something (or someone) catches your eye, take a snapshot. Think about the details surrounding leaving home, packing, luggage, taxis, city signs, roads, scenery. Think about how you’re traveling, by car, by airplane, by train; document that. Think about where you’re going, desert to mountains; mountains to islands; document that. There are so many details when we are traveling because we are out of our element, new food and restaurants, new places to stay and see, new scenery, new people – the details are endless if you’re looking for them.
How are you getting there?
This is my favorite one, I LOVE airplane photography. I don’t know why…you’re confined to a little space, and it’s boring and uncomfortable – let’s photo that, right? Well, some of my very favorite photos are taken on an airplane (go ahead, scroll down – I posted a few for you). The point of view is so much different than my regular old life. I’m drawn to it. So number two is definitely photograph how you’re traveling and while you’re traveling. There are always a million artistic shots you can take even if you’re buckled in. Get creative with it.
Where you’re staying
This one I’m bad at. I forget to photograph our accommodations unless they are just out of this world amazing. I think I forget because we are always so busy when we finally arrive and then we are on-the-go once we get settled, I just…don’t. But, speaking from experience, there are so many times I wish I had taken the time to at least snap a few shots of the hotel. Take the time.
What do you see around you?
This one is kind of obvious, everything is new and exciting when you travel. Photograph the things that speak to you. Markets, shops, people, vehicles, scenery, roads, crafts, food, bars, fields, whatever. If you find it interesting, it deserves a photo. And get creative with your angles and views – move around, get tall and get small, or even get sideways. You’ll get some really interesting shots, I promise!
Excursions and outings
Always, always, always take your camera. Sometimes I forget my camera when we head out and I always end up regretting it. Always. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to Jay, “oh man, I should have brought my camera.” You just never know what you’re going to find when you go out and about. Galleries, shops, local bars and restaurants, nature, pathways, alleys. I mean there are things to photo everywhere when you travel! Please, please remember to bring your camera.
Traveling back home
I’m telling you right now, don’t skip this one. The end of the trip is just as important as the beginning. Trust me, when you look back at all the photos, you don’t just want to see the beginning and the middle, it’s strange. And there are just as many cool things to photo on the way home. Bustling airports, tired faces, overstuffed suitcases because you shopped too much, giant cups of coffee because you haven’t slept in a week, wearing tennis shoes when it is 4 degrees out because you’re headed home to sunny Arizona (that happened), whatever, just don’t breeze over the travel home.
There you have it, my six best tips on how to document your next trip!
And now, here are some of my most recent travel photos from our trip to Telluride, Colorado in February. These were all shot with my Canon 5D Mark III and my Sigma Art 24mm f/1.4. Read all about my gear here.
I love the airplane pictures the most, which ones are your favorite?
Being present when a new life comes into the world is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. It’s moving, and emotional, and absolutely beautiful. Documenting the beginning of a life and a brand new family makes my heart full and my soul happy.
When it comes to birth, things don’t always go the way you plan. This mama had planned a natural birth with minimal medical intervention for her little guy. She labored all night and by the time I arrived the next day, she was in the tub with some pretty serious contractions. We were convinced things were going well and there were would be a baby boy very soon, but it turned out she had only dilated a little teeny bit. We continued on. The pain and the contractions intensified and mom was exhausted…and still not much progress was made with dilation. Dad made the call to change the plan. Mama needed a break. After some pain medications, they were both able to rest. And I had coffee.
After just a few hours, it was time to push. In under 30 minutes of hard pushing, a handsome, perfect little boy was born. Just like that, they were a brand new family!
I’ll never get over the emotional rollercoaster I have with photographing births. I love everything about them, but mostly I love being able to take parents back to the very beginning; the moment their lives changed forever and they finally got to meet their baby. I get goosebumps every time.
These were shot with my Canon 6D and my Canon 50mm f/1.2. Learn about my gear here.
I think I’ve decided that 1 year olds are among my favorite to work with. They are fun! They’re so curious and excitable, and absolutely fascinating to photograph. In working with this little guy, I was able to get down to his level and see the world through his eyes. I spent several hours (on the ground) following him around, photographing him just doing what he does. And I loved it!
I almost felt like a kid again, crawling around on the floor, having a mid-morning snack, pushing cars around back and forth, making a giant mess, and taking a walk to the park on a beautiful day.
My absolute favorite part was documenting him interacting with his mom though, it was so honest, so real. I love working with families and being able to feel their connection to one another. It warms my heart. This is a boy who truly loves hanging out with his mama. I was so proud to be able to capture a few snippets of their life together on his first birthday.
These were all shot with my Canon 6D and my Canon 50mm f/1.2 lens. Read all about my gear here.