That time………135

That time I had the crazy idea to photograph ONE-HUNDRED-and-THIRTY-FIVE beautiful women in just 18 days….for a massive coffee table book.

The idea, was to demonstrate the power of what I considered to be the most potent portrait lens ever made…the Carl Zeiss, 135mm f1.8

It was 2009, and there was a huge influx of people into photography, driven by inexpensive DSLRs, there was a common misconception that photography had become inexpensive. With that, came a wave of people not only buying and using the 50mm prime, but loudly proclaiming what a great portrait lens it was.

The truth was, it was closer to an “ok” portrait lens, but it was very popular because it was a cheap-fast way to get to shallow depth of field.

The 85mm lens…on the other hand…was a great portrait lens.  And the 135, that was more accurately a LEGEND.

My crazy idea created at least 3 challenges…not the least of which was finding and organizing 135 subjects.  (we waited til summer of 2010 for friendlier weather, and this gave us time to recruit and plan)

But I couldn’t just slap 135 identical photos into a book, another challenge would be creating VARIETY.

We brainstormed massive lists of ideas, and we tried just about everything.  It helped that it rained on several of the days.

But the most important challenge, to ME, was to demonstrate what made the 135 special…what made it BETTER.

One of the strengths of a longer lens for portraits, is the feeling that the subject is isolated….a sense of voyeurism, because you can shoot from much farther away.

The longer lens also creates COMPRESSION, which makes things much more dramatic…

Compression would make common places look alien…

You could get shallow depth of field with shorter lenses, but the longer lens made it possible to shoot through objects and turn them into gossamer.

And when you paired shallow depth of field WITH compression, you got some magic…

And then there were the features fairly unique to THIS specific 135mm lens.  The almost metallic colors…

The insanely perfect bokeh…

The gorgeous falloff into out of focus…

With this lens you cold even get compression and soft backgrounds indoors…

In the end, there were 18 days (most of the shoots were packed into 12)
155 total shoots, including group shoots and a bus trip
36,000 images
a 440-page, massive hardcover book
containing 1200 shots

And it all wrapped in the best way possible….a mud fight…

That turned into a water fight…

And the police were called……………….twice.

Miss you Brittany 🙂


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *