Robert Pugh is a Sony ambassador and professional wedding photographer, and he’s been a friend of the Camera Jabber team for quite a while. However, it was only recently that we discovered he’s a big fan of Lensbaby lenses. As I like them too, I met up with him to find out about a bit more about how he uses them for his professional work.
Here’s what he had to say:
Getting it right in-camera
It’s very important to me to get the image right in-camera. I know some photographers can turn an average image into something amazing in Photoshop, but getting the image looking as close to finished as possible in-camera saves me loads of time in post-processing. That means I can spend more time shooting and earning money, but more importantly, I have more time with my family.
Also, I like to show the bride and groom an image or two on the day to get them ‘into’ the shoot.
I started using the Lensbaby Edge 50 and Twist 60 when they first came out. I love the blur with a band of focus you get from the Edge 50, and the swirly out of focus effect of the Twist 60. They add something different to a shoot. Both stay in my wedding kit bag now.
I like some of the other lenses too, like the Burnside 35, but it’s bigger and heavier, so I prefer to carry the Composer Pro II and just swap the Edge and Twist in and out.
I’ll use both for engagement shoots, but I mainly use the Edge 50 for weddings. I’ll probably start using the Edge 35 now too. I like to get all the regular shots done using my Sony lenses, but then I offer to shoot something a little bit different and most couples really love it.
Engagement and Wedding Shoots
At an engagement shoot, I always start by photographing the couple in natural light using my Sony lenses. Then I introduce a bit of flash. I use just one and usually without a modifier. It’s either to fill out shadows or to make an overcast day looks a little sunnier.
Once I’ve got those shots in the bag, I ask the couple if they’re up for trying a different look. Usually, they agree and I fit one of the Lensbabies on my Sony A9 and continue to shoot with the flash.
I explain that using the lens slows things down a bit but they’ll get something unique.
After I’ve taken the first shot or two, I show the couple. I usually show the bride first as she’s normally the one who gets the idea. I always suggest they look in the viewfinder as it’s easier to see in bright light outside, but it also has more impact.
That usually sells the idea to the couple and they’re ready to shoot more. Afterwards, the smiles tend to be a bit bigger and we start to have some fun.
At weddings, I use three locations for the portraits of the bride and groom. I use the Lensbaby Edge 50 at the third location for the ‘wow’ shot. I often suggest they go and have a drink while I set up the flash at the third location and take a couple of tests shots.
I’m not just looking at the exposure, with the Edge 50, I need to decide where I want the slice of focus. It’s often horizontal to make it look like I’ve shot with a really wide aperture, but if the couple are on a staircase, for example, I might make it diagonal.
Using A Lensbaby
The Lensbaby lenses are manual focus, so I always have one button on the camera set to magnify the image to help with that. That lets me see plenty of detail so I know I’ve got the bride and groom sharp.
I tend to shoot at f/5.6 which gives a nice degree of blur. If I want a more dramatic look, I’ll use f/3.5 instead. But that means you’ve got to be really careful with the focusing.
I use a Lumu exposure meter on my phone to get the ambient and flash light nicely balanced.
Most people use Lensbabies with natural light. Combining them with flash gives an extra element so the couple get something a bit special.