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Favorite Lenses of Famous Photographers

As much as photographers distance themselves from their cameras, saying that it is merely a tool, photography as a whole is much more intertwined with technology than traditional art. Our cameras and our lenses set the boundaries of our perspectives. This is why, we’d thought it’d be interesting to look at some famous photographer’s favorite lenses.

We’ve compiled a list of 7 famous photographers. We wanted to see if there is a trend. Are 85mm lenses really the preferred portrait focal length or is it more marketing? Is the 24-70mm  zoom really the industry workhorse? We wanted to see if there is reason behind the madness.

Henri Cartier-Bresson (50mm)

Genre: Street and Photojournalism

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One of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s most famous photographs, a man jumping over a puddle taken at the right moment.

The father of photojournalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson is a master of candid street photography and an early adopter of the 35mm format. He helped develop street photography back in the 1940s and 50s with  his Leica rangefinder and a 50mm prime.

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In an interview with the NY Times, he said:

“[The 50] corresponds to a certain vision and at the same time has enough depth of focus, a thing you don’t have in longer lenses. I worked with a 90. It cuts much of the foreground if you take a landscape, but if people are running at you, there is no depth of focus. The 35 is splendid when needed, but extremely difficult to use if you want precision in composition. There are too many elements, and something is always in the wrong place. It is a beautiful lens at times when needed by what you see.”

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9 Great Documentaries on Photography, Art, and Design

To take beautiful pictures you must understand what is beautiful. Aesthetics, taste, and style defines an artist. Even if you are born naturally enough with a fantastic eye, it still must be developed, cultivated, and matured. Everything else is technique, which is mechanical and can be easily learned by anyone. Being a good photographer is no different. It’s not just about knowing the camera settings, how to manipulate light, or how to choose the right gear. It’s about being able to appreciate what is beautiful, what is different, what is unique, and sharing your vision with the rest of the world.

One accessible way of developing your tastes is to study what society considers beautiful. It’s a starting point. Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and tastes differ, but it’s not as purely subjective as you may think. Having studied enough of it, you’ll soon realize that there are repeating themes, rhythms, and philosophies that transcend. Here are 9 fairly popular selections I have chose for you to explore.

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