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Essential Gear

Lesson 4 from: Capturing Authentic Photos of Children & Families

Chris Orwig

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Lesson Info

4. Essential Gear

Next Lesson: Working with Light

Lesson Info

Essential Gear

With cameras, your camera body... Well this one has last a while, but usually, it last three to five years. Which for some people is sort of depressing. Like, what? But you think of it like a computer. And if you think of buying that laptop, realistically, you may have it a half dozen years. But after that, you gotta get rid of it and get a new one. And that's just the nature of the iteration of how technology goes, the speed of technology and whatnot. The lenses, though, you hang on to. So there's lenses that you'll live with or maybe pass on to someone else. Why is that important? It's mostly important because you think of investing in lenses versus not. They're a worthwhile investment 'cause they stick around. Obviously, the camera's important too. The lenses that are more top of the line you get these things: they're a better build, faster auto-focus, better color fidelity, the image quality tends to be stronger, you can shoot at lower f/stops. So in this bag I have this is an 85 1...

.2. So it's really expensive. It's a really, really good lens. And it gives me that because it's an F2, right? And if it was, let's say a 5.6, it might cost a third of the price. But you're paying for that ability to have that look. Which for me is important, right? So that's 'cause of my true north, not 'cause of marketing. Not 'cause someone else said, "You gotta buy this lens!" I don't really care what other people do. It's gotta be about me and my voice and you too. The world needs you. The world doesn't need you to impersonate someone else. So then, if we... And they do cost more of course. If we compare that to the entry level thing, it's a lower quality lens, slower focusing, which with kids and stuff they're moving so fast that's important. Sometimes you get unwanted vignetting that doesn't look good, so that's a darkening around the edges. Higher f/stop, it is a lower cost. That's the advantage. And if we just set these up side by side, this is a couple things to kind of compare those. And all that I want people to do is rather than make that... Rather than make... Can't talk. Rather than make that emotional purchase like, "I need to get that lens "and then that lens." 'Cause you can't buy the whole camera store, right? But to make the lens on okay, "What's my vision of voice?" And then, "What kind of lens will serve that "and allow me to achieve that?" And then ultimately, just to think about the idea that one good lens is better than three mediocre lenses. Now, this may be you can't afford the lens right now. Who cares? I bet you could in a year. Create a little account, set away some funds, and say, "Yeah, I'm goin' for this one lens "because this is my true north "and this is where I'm going in this way." Next thing to think about is focal length. And that we have the ability to shoot with wide angle lenses. And my one thought with that... This is a lens. This one is a 24 to 70. Typically, when you think of a wide angle lens, something like a 16mm to 50 or something like that. So when I'm shooting this at 24mm, all that it means is I have a wide angle of view. So, wide angle lenses are kind of hungry. They're like, "I want to take in the whole scene," you know? Landscape photographers, they use wide angle lenses all the time. "I want these rocks. "I want those hills, the tree. "I want it all." And so there's the angle of view. You go to a lens which is a 70 to 200mm lens, so I'll bring out this guy here. Which you saw some photographs captured with this one. And, it changes the angle of view. So, if I had a 70 to 200 right now, I could photograph one of you. It's like a 12 degree angle of view. This is the slice of the world that I'm seeing. Now if things are farther away, the slice isn't as dramatic. Are you with me on that? If it's a mountain, I actually get a large part of the mountain. If it's a person, I just get her face. And so we're thinking about well what kind of stories do we like to tell? Are we a little bit more about broader? Or do we want to get in close? So it's one way to think of lenses that typically isn't talked about very much. The other thing to think about with lenses is that telephoto lenses, or longer lenses, give you the ability to have compression. All that means is that things which are far away in the background seem closer. I mean, perhaps the best way to think of it is the shot of the football player catching the ball. And it looks like the... What do you call the audience? Or, the fans are right... I don't like football, but sorry. They're like right behind the person, right? In this case, those hills in the background which are far, I think they're 60 miles away, they look like you could kind of walk to them, maybe. Wide angle on the other hand can produce distortion. Sometimes that's fun. And so they give you different looks. The compression on a human face, our faces tend to look better when they're flatter versus when they're stretched out and wide. But here it's my kid. That's just sort of fun, right? Let me show you another comparison. Here's a family. I have this cousin who has nine kids. I know, crazy. I was like, "Hey, I gotta capture a photograph of you." I captured this one at 50. 50 is sort of normal, that's how your eye sees the world. And then I threw on a wide angle lens and did a 16 mil with all them crammed in there and distorted 'cause that's more how their family feels to me. Which one's better? It's kind of subjective. It's not a great photograph, but I think it illustrates this idea that it's the same moment, the same people, but you see the differences in the lenses. So the question is what's the perfect portrait lens? And with family I think it's something like this: it's in a range of 24-200. And what I mean by that isn't to get a 24-200mm lens. But is to get something that isn't too, too wide because that usually doesn't work. But maybe start around 24, or you could use a 50. The two lenses that I use most frequently are a 50mm f/1.2 and a 70-200mm f/2.8. And why I do that is I like the characteristics, the quality of those lenses. In the guide, you'll see I talk more about gear in a detailed way. But one of the things I say is, "The 50mm is kind of like the acoustic guitar." It's just like an authentic, wood instrument. Nice voice to it, isn't overly dramatic. I dig that. The 70-200mm is a little bit more like the electric. You know, it's like, "Wow!" Remember the one I was sayin' that was timeless of my friend and his son? That's 70-200mm. It's like, "Dun, dun, duuuun." You know, it has that kind of stamp on it. And so for me having that combo is a really good mix. I tend not to shoot very wide with family and kids because I don't want a lot of clutter in the frame. But that's more because of my vision and voice. This is about me, but you gotta figure out what's you. So those are some things to think about in regards to gear. And the why, of course, is this has to do with my vision and voice and style. It has nothing to do with marketing. It has nothing to do with the color of the lens, the brand. I shoot Canon and Sony. But when I'm selecting lenses in either form, I'm thinking about my own vision, voice, and style. And that shapes it. So that's me, which is probably nice and interesting to hear but doesn't really matter. The real question is you.

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Ratings and Reviews

Meredith Zinner Photography

Chris is a FANTASTIC teacher (and photographer). He is so very very authentic, warm, REAL, talented, knowledgeable, honest, open and true to his wonderful self. This class, in addition to endless nuggets of knowledge and insights, highlights how being true to your own self makes you a better photographer- emphasizing connection, authenticity, fun and easy relaxed simple joy. A refreshing take on children's photography for sure! Thank you Chris and CreativeLive!

lisa james

Wow, I have been in search of my style. I've been reading and researching and listening to inspiring speakers and from each one I've gathered pieces of information that help guide me. This class, however, has been the most successful for me. Chris's approach to teaching and his material that he provides is Spot On for me. Thank you, Chris. I am so inspired and eager to move forward now that I can see my vision more clearly. I highly recommend this class.

Neeraj Arora

Oh my god!!!! What a class. I couldn't stop watching. Chris you are an inspiration, loved every word you said, loved how you said it. I am in the process of getting a plan together for doing photography professionally on the side, on top of my research career, and you just hit a home run in getting me motivated and excited in taking the plunge. My photography of people gives me a lot of satisfaction and meaning and you just validated what I have been thinking of doing lately. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

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