An essential part of photography since its inception has been portrait photography, or taking photographs of people. Going back to the dawn of mankind human beings have been trying to preserve their image, from cave paintings to Greek sculptures and the likes of paintings from the renaissance era, it seems to be in the human nature to create portraits.

Within the photography world portraiture has had many styles and trends, but one that stays a staple classic is the use of depth of field. Depth of field (DOF), also called focus range or effective focus range, is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image. Depth of field can be used in many different ways, when creating a shallow or small depth of field within portraiture the parts of the image that are in focus for example the eyes of a person will draw the attention of the viewer whilst the parts of the image that are not in focus are blurred out and the sharp subject versus a blurry background creates a sense of drama.

Many photographers use shallow depth of field in their own work, most notably; Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Annie Leibovitz, Steve McCurry, Yousuf Karsh and Mary Ellen Mark plus   numerous more.

annie l
Annie Leibovitz
david baliey
David Bailey
mary ellen marks
Mary Ellen Marks
richard av
Richard Avedon
steve mccurry
Steve McCurry
Yousuf karsh
Yousuf Karsh


There are several ways to achieve a shallow depth of field. Along with a large aperture, you can move the subject closer to your camera. Can use a lens with a longer focal length or by using a camera with a larger sensor. There are other techniques that can be used to create a shallow depth of field for example free lensing, which is were you actually detach the lens from the camera and hold the lens in front of the sensor whilst shooting.

I am going to focus on this specific method of creating portraits, as I have recently become aware of it and it will be an interesting subject to explore. I will look at how to achieving portraits using the the technique of free lensing and do general research on the subject. Whilst experimenting with the method and creating my own work to produce a portfolio of three portraits using free lensing.



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