I had an interesting discussion in a photography group on Facebook some time ago. It started with my question about the 35mm prime lens, and somehow I ended up discussing zoom lenses with a member of the group. He said that, as an event photographer, he doesn’t have the luxury of moving around and focusing with his feet so he only uses zoom lenses. I support him and agree with him – up to some point.
I am not a professional event photographer, so I have the luxury to experiment. And a few months ago I was in a situation where I had to experiment. My prime lens was put to a test in event photography – and I believe it passed.
Familiar situation, new conditions
My brother and his band promoted their first album in October 2016. I was super-excited, and I traveled from Belgrade to Novi Sad only to attend this gig. I packed light, and I was in a rush (as usual), so I only brought my camera with the lens already attached onto it. It turned to be a 50 mm lens. And I was not quite sure how I was to photograph a blues gig in a small space with this lens. I shot gigs and concerts with it before, but I always had plenty of room to move. This was the first time I was limited this way.
Since I am not a pro, nor I charged for photographing that evening, I had the freedom to experiment. You have probably already read in various photography tips that prime lens gives you a new perspective, and I definitely got a confirmation of this claim. A prime lens made me more creative and helped me take some pretty nice shots that evening!
Thanks to the small space and huge crowd, I didn’t have enough room to move around. Not to mention that it was impossible to capture the whole band together on stage. This kind of limitation forced me to use what I had, and I used up my prime lens and limited movement to the max. I can tell you, it’s true that limited conditions give you a new perspective and make you change the point of view. I ended up with photos of band members I like way better than when I use a zoom lens.
The album promotion was in my favorite bar in Novi Sad. No matter how much I love this place, I have to say that it’s quite photography unfriendly in the evening. Because of this, a 50mm lens turned out to be a great option. Thanks to wide aperture, I was able to capture decent photos with relatively fast shutter speed. Also, I believe the depth field wide aperture created added to the atmosphere and made photos more compelling.
Thanks to the limited space I had for moving around, I was able to think outside the box. As a matter of fact, I was forced to do so. I had wide aperture, a 50 mm lens and very little space. Thus, I stopped observing band members through the lens only. I started observing the objects around them, and taking photos of the band through these objects. I enjoyed this little game I created for myself, and I think I made some interesting photos, too.
While we’re at the objects of photos, I also changed the direction of looking and observed the faces in the bar. I tried capturing the mood, so I snapped a few candid photos of people who were enjoying the music. I‘m generally not very keen on candid photography, because I am a bit timid and afraid of people’s reactions. Still, I decided to give it a shot (pun not intended). And I ended up capturing a photo that became my favorite shot of the evening.
You will probably “get stuck” with a prime lens sometime. However, don’t feel like you are “stuck” with it. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to expand your creativity and try something new. See it as a challenge that will push you over your limits. At the end of the day, you will feel proud of yourself because you grew as a photographer and broke the pattern. And not to mention that you will end up with some really nice shots!