The 35mm is very much an underrated focal length. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because when you type “35mm” into the search bars, all kinds of 35mm film cameras pop up. Maybe it’s because its longer brother, the 50mm, has been stealing its thunder ever since Henri Cartier-Bresson mentioned how much he preferred the mighty 50. Maybe people are superstitious about odd numbered focal lengths? Who knows? But what I do know, is that some of history’s best street and fashion photographers have relied on the 35mm lens as their main lens of choice. And here is why.
A Flexible Working Distance
When shooting in confined alleys or with a live model, working distance is a very important but not often talked about concept. Working distance is basically the distance between you (your camera) and the subject.
Fashion and portrait photographers don’t regularly shoot 200mm telephotos because standing 50 feet away would make connecting with the model difficult. Not to mention, most urban studios are hardly big enough even for a 135mm.