Rendering Intent

50mm or 85mm?

That’s a current dilemma for me when I’m contemplating the craft aspect of a portrait.

Historically, the 50mm has been my lens of choice. It puts me in proximity to my subject in a way that makes perfect sense. For better or for worse, it allows me to act reflexively.

At the moment, the distance between the film plane and the subject matters in a way that’s new to me.

The quick fix is a longer lens. Time will tell if it’s sustainable. That’s because there are intangibles that are subtle and esoteric pertaining to where I stand.

There are few words that can properly explain the difference between these focal lengths. The only one that might fit is “mojo” which I first heard from Mark Tucker.

This portrait was with made with an 85mm lens. I captured a few frames with a 50mm but the longer lens rendered the sweetest results. For now, I’m re-acquainting myself with this underused tool.

About the author: I am Stephen Kennedy, an experienced photographer with more than 2500 completed sessions in all 50 US states.