Why I DON’T Shoot With Prime Lenses

Why I Don't Use Prime Lenses Heather Hughes Photography

I’ve been seeing a lot of talk about lenses lately. While I’m a strong proponent of HOW you use your equipment being more important than WHAT you use, this particular topic was something I couldn’t ignore. I just had to dispel some of the myths circulating out there.

I know that means this blog is going to get a little technical, but even if you aren’t a photo geek like me, there are a few points you might find interesting all the same!

What are “Prime Lenses?”

Let me start by explaining the term “prime lenses.” These are lenses that have a fixed focal length, which means they don’t zoom in or out. They tend to be cheaper (since you have to buy more of them) and are sometimes lighter. Many photographers like them because they can get a good quality off-brand (like Tamron) cheaper than a name brand (Canon or Nikon).

But the myth I’d like to dispel is that you can only get clean, sharp images from prime lenses. That’s not the case at all. The cheaper brands, first of all, don’t have the better mechanics and glass. And what’s more, the popular “bokeh” everyone wants right now (with a soft, out-of-focus background) is possible with both types of lenses as long as you know how to use them and keep the aperture low.

So, why do I prefer zooms?


Why I Don't Use Prime Lenses Heather Hughes Photography

They are better for capturing moments.

If I’m busy changing lenses (which you have to do more often when using primes), I miss that look a bride and groom give each other when they think I’m done—or a mom sticking her tongue out at her son. I’m a trained photojournalist, so moments are a KEY part of every session. I need to be able to zoom in or out quickly when there isn’t time to move, so I can capture those priceless moments as they happen.

They are lighter.

While a prime 35mm is MUCH lighter than my 17-35mm zoom, I would have to carry a 17mm AND a 35mm if I didn’t have my zoom. That makes my bag heavier, which makes those long wedding days harder (and me slower), and I want to be able to keep my energy up and run around the dance floor all night long!

Obviously, I think that pros should use what they’re most comfortable with, but I think the proof is in the pudding here: Pay attention to pro photographers that focus on capturing moments, like newspaper, event, and sports photographers. You won’t catch them lugging around a bag of primes!


Why I Don't Use Prime Lenses Heather Hughes Photography

Virginia Photojournalism | Capturing Stories on Camera

I’ve been a professional photographer for over 18 years and got my first (purple) camera when I was just 7 years old! I earned my BSVC at Ohio University—one of the best photojournalism schools in the country—and went on to become an award-winning newspaper photographer in Ohio and Virginia. I photographed presidents, famous athletes, and hurricanes—but everything changed after I photographed my first wedding in 2003.

In 2008, after photographing about 120 weddings, I left my newspaper career to run my business full-time, and I am proud to now be known in Virginia as an award-winning wedding photographer. My friendly and helpful demeanor has helped me build clients for life and grow my newborn, family, and senior businesses in recent years. So trust me, I’ve got the experience to back up my claims!

I am eternally grateful I get to share my gift for storytelling and capture timeless moments others will treasure and share for generations. I hope even the non-photographers out there know a little more about what to look for when hiring a photographer from this post, too!

Why I Don't Use Prime Lenses Heather Hughes Photography

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Voted the Knot’s “Best of Wedding Photographers” | WeddingWire’s “Couples Choice” Award 2008 - 2019 | Virginia Living Magazine's "Top Wedding Vendor" 2016- 2019 | VA Small Newspaper Photographer of the Year | Wedding Photojournalist Assoc. Blue Medallion Award