Most photographers I know have lens preferences and tend to use a preferred lens for their photography. Maybe it’s the way the lens captures the glare of the sun or the way the lens sees what they imagine in their mind. What if you could only draw one?
Sometimes it’s a fun creative exercise to put constraints on your shooting style. For example, instead of changing lenses, you zoom with your feet.
When I started shooting weddings, I was afraid of my wide-angle lens because I didn’t want to get too close to my subjects. Instead, I stood at a comfortable distance and shot a 50mm or 85mm. Eventually, I learned that there was something magical about being in the moment, physically.
Not only do photos taken with 35mm feel intimate to the viewer of the image, but it places me in an intimate space with my subject. Sometimes they still didn’t notice me because they were so busy with their wedding day, but I noticed everything. And that’s not even taking into account the versatility of the 35mm focal length when it comes to portraits.
Today I’m going to tell you more about the top 6 reasons why I love my 35mm lens for wedding photography.
To note: Every photo in this article was taken with my 35mm lens.
1. First is first
Prime lenses are great for a variety of reasons. They are generally sharp, fast and suitable for low light. Also, shooting with a prime lens will make you a better photographer because it forces you to work within the limits of the focal length rather than zooming lazily.
When it comes to buying lenses, there are a number of lens options for 35mm. Therefore, you’ll likely find something that fits your budget, especially if you’re considering third-party options as well.
2. You never have to switch lenses
Imagine yourself shooting the details of the reception in a smaller room with your fast 85mm and the bride walks up to you and asks you to take a photo of her group of friends. Chances are you won’t be able to get this shot with your 85mm. Conversely, while you might prefer a different lens for a nice, sharp portrait, there’s almost nothing you can’t shoot with the 35mm if you have to.
The 35mm focal length is ideal for working in tight spaces when your 50mm or 85mm may not be wide enough. You can get closer or farther from your subjects and capture the variety of your work, even with just one lens.
3. Wide enough but not too wide
In the same vein, the 35mm focal length is wide but not too wide. It’s wide enough to capture almost any scene, but not so wide that it captures everything, including miscellaneous things you don’t want.
I think 35mm is great because I feel like I have the whole scene slightly wider than what my eye sees. It’s like my eye plus peripheral vision that somehow draws the viewer into the photograph. But unlike wider lenses, it doesn’t seem too wide where you might get lost in the scene and struggle with what to focus on or be distracted by distortion.
Of course, there are times in a small prep room where I struggle to get a wide enough view of the dress or tight spaces in general where I want something a little wider. And there are times when I can’t get close enough for some reason and I need a telephoto lens. However, overall the 35mm is quite versatile, especially for its size and weight.
4. It is lightweight and compact
This brings me to the lightness and compactness of a 35mm prime lens. I use the Sony f1.8 for this reason, loving the punch it packs out of its small body. If I’m spinning all day in tight spaces and in front of people, it’s nice to be nimble.
It’s also nice to be able to have my camera wherever I am and not hesitate to carry it around or take it out. It might not be huge on your list when buying gear, but size is often a big factor for me because I want to be fast and light, allowing my gear to make me better rather than slow me down. .
5. He films great moments
This brings me back to the idea I mentioned in the intro of connecting with people, telling stories and capturing moments. The 35mm focal length creates a beautiful image of intimate storytelling. It forces you closer and shows the viewer the emotion of the scene.
You’ll see a lot of photojournalists, travel photographers, and street photographers using this focal length for this reason. It’s certainly less intimidating than having a huge zoom in on your face and it’s also more intimate than having your photo taken with a telephoto lens.
6. He takes great landscape portraits or narrates landscapes
And at the same time, I can take quite a wide landscape style image with the 35mm lens. It is wide enough to capture the scenery and create a dramatic landscape portrait. While sometimes I prefer my 16-35mm for a bit more flexibility, the 35mm often gets the job done.
For me, capturing moments and shooting landscapes or landscape-style portraits are my bread and butter and the 35mm accomplishes both of these purposes wonderfully. Maybe I still want something else for a clean portrait or when I can’t get close during a ceremony, for example.
In conclusion, I like my 35mm lens for its versatility. This focal length accomplishes a lot in a small package, making it a great choice for wedding photography. If you’re just starting out and trying to keep your gear list minimal, you can’t go wrong with this lens focal length.
I frequently shoot with my 35mm during all aspects of the wedding day, from the preparations to the ceremony to the portraits and finally the reception. One of the main challenges is that getting a variety of images requires a lot of movement. You come closer, you move away, you go down and you go up.
Above all, all that movement and the variety of your compositions makes you a better photographer as I’ve said (more than once!) The challenge comes when you’re shooting a crowded ceremony or a ceremony where you don’t have a good contacts access to where the couple is or transition time. For most scenarios, I usually switch my 85mm to my second camera during the ceremony and have everything I need.
I’m not claiming that I don’t have other lenses in my bag or that I prefer other lenses for various scenarios. But if all my lenses suddenly disappeared, I would survive if I still had my 35mm!
About the Author: Brenda Bergreen is a Colorado wedding photographer, videographer, yoga instructor and writer who works alongside her husband at Bergreen Photography. With their mission and mantra “Love. Adventurous. They are dedicated to telling stories of adventures in beautiful places.