It should not really astound us, but nonetheless, we are always pleasantly surprised when a group of photographers visit a location or event, and on review, the images all have totally unique perspectives and stories. This is a reflection of a number of different factors, least of which is our individual viewpoint, biased by past experiences, background and emotions. All of this melds into the creative process which results in our vision of what story our image wants to convey.
To transform our creative vision into an image, we need to choose the right tools. Although we can all get too caught up in the technical side of photography, feeding the gearhead in all of us, I like this quote from Alister Benn “A high level of technical ability is my passport to allowing myself freedom of expression”.
Choosing the correct lens to use is part of the technical decision making process in creating the image that expresses what you want to express. Whether it is a wide angle image that captures a landscape in its totality and is sharp front to back, a fast portrait lens that isolates your subject with a narrow depth of field, a macro lens that highlights minute details, or telephoto lens that compresses your vista, choosing the correct lens helps tell your story.
It is for this reason that we are a big fan of shooting with primes. We have at our disposal the Canon TSE 24mm f3.5L II, 35mm f1.4L, 50mm f1.2L, 100mm IS f2.8L, 300mm f2.8L and 400mm f2.8L. In addition we use the Zeiss 15mm and 21mm primes. With primes, you do work a little harder to get the composition and perspective you want, but it encourages you to think about what you are trying to convey with the image. In addition, the quality of the glass and the image is generally superior to a zoom lens.
However the purpose of this article is really to highlight how different lenses can dramatically change your perspective of a landscape, event or subject. There is no right or wrong, only what story you want to tell, and there is often more than one.
This excellent video from Canon, highlights just how different lenses influences the art of photography.