2017 is my “Year of Unconventional Lenses” and it’s turned out to be the year that I’ve fallen back in love with my Lensbaby.
Not that I ever really fell out of love with it, it’s just that I fell out of the habit of using it. In fact for a long while I fell out of the habit of shooting anything that wasn’t for a client and although my portrait photography went from strength to strength I started to feel creatively stifled. Which is the whole reason for the Unconventional Lenses project, to push myself creatively.
The more I’ve been sharing my Lensbaby images the more I’ve found myself being asked why I like Lensbabies so much. It’s a question that I’ve pondered a lot and I’ve realised there are two very separate answers, there’s the why I was first drawn to them and there’s the why I enjoy them so much now.
I don’t usually share health problems on my blog or social media but my reasons for first being drawn to the Lensbaby are very closely linked to the fact that I suffer from recurring iritis. Without going into lots of detail it’s a very painful eye condition and the treatment involves several hospital visits and (amongst other things) dilating the pupil for a week or two, which results in blurred vision.
When I first came across Lensbabies in 2010 I’d reached the stage where I had to accept that iritis would not be the once in a lifetime problem that it was expected to be, but would in fact be something I would have to live with once or twice a year. I stumbled across some Lensbaby photos on Flickr and my first thought was that the Lensbaby blur (in the days of the Composer and double glass optic) was very much how I saw the world while I was being treated for iritis! I found it somehow comforting that there was a lens that made blurriness ok and I just had to have one.
Back in 2010 I was very new to photography, using the Composer helped me learn a lot about camera settings but my Lensbaby photos weren’t great. I didn’t take me long to work out that if a photo was pretty unremarkable using a standard lens using a Lensbaby would only make it an unremarkable image with a bit of blur! I did have a look to see if I had any old images that I would be happy to share. I didn’t, they were mostly awful but I did enjoy taking them!!
And so my Lensbaby journey began….
Fast forward seven years, my collection of Lensbaby optics has grown as have my skills in using them. I still suffer recurring bouts of iritis, I still find the blurred vision difficult to cope with and so I still find the Lensbaby blur reassuring but it’s no longer the real reason that I love to shoot with a Lensbaby.
Now I love to shoot with a Lensbaby because it allows me to create unique images that reflect my own view of the world around me. My Lensbabies really allow me to harness my imagination and the way I feel about a subject to create photographs that show how I see the world around me. If I could draw or paint I probably would but since I can’t I use Lensbabies to create photographs that are more like an artist’s view of the world.
So what’s next on my Lensbaby journey?
Who knows! That’s the beauty of personal photography projects, you can just go wherever the inspiration takes you.
I’m planning a lot of floral garden photography over the summer, weather permitting. I recently got a Twist 60 which I love for flowers and I’m still loving the Edge 50. I’m also feeling an increasing pull back to using some of the older optics, but who knows, maybe I’ll be tempted by something new instead!