Lensbaby: The Very Beginning

About Lensbaby's Beginning

Craig Strong, Lensbaby Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder, reflects on the story behind the very first Lensbaby lens. Craig's creative, outside-the-box approach to photography has resulted in unique tools for photographers all over the world. Find out about Lensbaby's beginning straight from Craig. This post that originally appeared in the Lensbaby Unplugged Facebook Group.

A recent conversation with Lensbaby President Ken Mitchell got me thinking about where this adventure all started and the very first Lensbaby.

Late summer, 2002, Kevin Kubota asked me to be a guest teacher at his next Digital Bootcamp.

I'd been using a video wide angle converter in front of one of my Canon lenses and Kevin wanted me to share my secret.

I didn't feel like it was much of a secret and "Get this cheap teleconverter if you can find one and screw it onto your 28mm f/1.8 Canon lens if you've got one..." wasn't the teaching I had in mind.

So, I set out to find something more interesting to teach.

With the bootcamp a few weeks away, while taking a break from (avoiding) editing one (several) of the ~forty weddings I photographed in 2002, I looked at the Speed Graphic camera my sister, Bonnie, had given me that was sitting on my bookshelf and thought, "If I put it on my dSLR, I could tilt that lens."

First I needed to block out stray light so I could make some pictures and see if they were interesting. A trip to the hardware store seemed like a long shot to find resilient bellows, but there on the shelf I found what I needed, shop-vac hose.

I made a hole in a camera body cap, cut the shop-vac hose to the length I needed, popped the tubing into the body cap, mounted the Kodak 101mm lens from my Speed Graphic and headed to a wedding at Timberline Lodge the next day.Original Lensbaby lens photo lens homemade experimental tilting lens Craig Strong about Lensbaby beginning

As it turned out, I could focus it quickly and the images pleased me and my clients. I still love this lens and the bendable line of Lensbabies that inherited its flexible tubing design.

Below is an image I made with this contraption at that wedding on Mt. Hood.

Learn more about Lensbaby.

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