I recently returned from a spectacular week of shooting in Sedona teaching on a ANPW workshop. Everyday brought amazing light, rosy sunsets and stunning clouds. I have shot a lot in Sedona, so I decided this trip I would endure the 50mm exercise. What is this you say?
When I taught college photography classes, I loved the fact that I had the students all semester. This meant we had time to really explore concepts, techniques and creative styles. One of the first exercises I had the students do is shoot with a fixed 50mm for one week. This assignment was met with groans of displeasure; how could they get anything good with a 50mm? No zooms, super wide angles or fisheyes, just a simple 50mm to record the scene.
If you have journalism roots like I do, you know fixed lenses have ruled the profession for years. Award winning images are shot on fixed lenses like the 50mm. So really what happens when you only use the 50mm is you have to change how you shoot, and try different things. Perfect! That is how you develop your creativity…try something new, not doing something you do all the time.
I roamed the desert looking for angles with my 50mm. I had to walk right up to some subjects; try photographing people with the 50mm. You have to make contact, establish report, and hopefully record an honest moment the 50mm interaction creates. I found shots in Oak Creek I had never seen before when I used my zoom lens. I’m not leaving all my beautiful zoom lenses behind, but using the 50mm got me thinking outside the box in a familiar location. Try the 50mm exercise on your next shoot, you might just get an image you never imagined.