In the world of fine art photography, the subject is king and queen and everything.

But a subject can only take you so far. It’s how you get imaginative with light, color, and depth of field that really extends the story.

Dreamy, dancing blur isn’t always at the heart of fine art photography, but maybe it should be. Because it helps shots tell a better story. It helps images resonate and stimulate. It reveals hidden stories that don’t often get noticed in portraits or landscapes. And it helps photographers bring their own soul—and the soul of their subject—into new, unchartered territory.

Lensbaby lenses live for blur. That’s something that Elke Kulhawy, Hengki Lee, and Christopher Galluccio have experienced day in and out. Discovering how to use blur to its best isn’t always the easiest road to take. But—as each of these photographers tell you—it’s definitely the most fulfilling.


Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 35. Photo by Elke Kulhawy

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 50. Photo by Elke Kulhawy.

Blur has the power to showcase the raw emotions of a shot.

That’s what Elke Kulhawy believes. Just like she believes her photography is more than just an image; it’s a platform to uncover what’s hidden.

“In general, my pictures are often called fuzzy or unclear,” the German photographer says. “But I think it’s because I have the freedom to let my pure emotions guide me. They are a release valve to my soul.”

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 35. Photo by Elke Kulhawy.

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 35. Photo by Elke Kulhawy.

It wasn’t always easy for Kulhawy. Her first Lensbaby lens took some getting used to. She realized that finding the focal point required a little more skill. She practiced with her daughter sitting in the woods on a log, trying to find the right balance to match her creativity. After a whole bunch of fun and funky shots—plus a little frustration—she overcame her limits to find the ideal outlet for her creative vision.

Kulhawy prefers the Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 35 and Sweet 50 because the optics help her focus on what’s important to her. She uses blur to make images vaguely recognizable yet still essential. This enables her to do things she never though she would.

“The style of blur allows me to penetrate into areas that are far from the pure image,” she says. “It allows me to create images with soul.”

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 35. Photo by Elke Kulhawy.

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 50. Photo by Elke Kulhawy.

Tips from the photographer:

What worked:

“The blur effect I get from Lensbaby lenses allows me to focus on what I find important, and to leave everything else vaguely recognizable. This helps me expand the story of the image.”

What didn’t:

“I had to get used to taking photographs with Lensbaby lenses. At first it was difficult to find the focal point. But the more I practiced, the better I got—and I had fun from day one.”

What I learned:

“Sometimes I can’t immediately identify why I took a photograph of a subject. But when I’m processing the image, I better understand the heart and soul of the subject. So I take photographs of what’s available to me, and discover the crucial images to share afterward.”


Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 50. Photo by Hengki Lee.

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 50. Photo by Hengki Lee.

Unique. Dramatic. Powerful.

If you’re not creating images that convey these elements, what are you actually creating?

Hengki Lee blends the soul and the mind to take photography to unpredictable places. And dreamy blur helps him spot the surprise in every shot. He uses blur to express his feelings, fantasies, and emotions in a poetic way.

“My photography style is a blend of all aspects of my life,” Lee says. “Blur helps me focus on what’s unique inside of the chaos.”

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 50. Photo by Hengki Lee.

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 50. Photo by Hengki Lee.

Lee chooses the Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 50 because it helps him match his photography to his moods. His ideal shoot is a location with continuous lighting that allows him to create a beautiful, wistful silhouette. These powerful, poetic images illuminate Lee’s unique style—his photographic trademark.

While it took some time to become an expert at his favorite lenses and optics—including the Lensbaby Composer Pro—he was obsessed with finding ways to encase his images in blur. There’s always something new to see in his work when he uses Lensbaby.

“When my shots are connected to my soul and my senses,” he says, “that’s when they do more than I expected them to do.”

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 50 Hengki Lee

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 50. Photo by Hengki Lee.

Tips from the photographer:

What worked:

“Combining my Lensbaby Composer Pro with additional environmental adjustments—including continuous lighting and artificial fogging—to create a dreamy silhouette that inspires.”

What didn’t:

“Experimenting with portrait photography. I chalk that up to not having a good sense of what it takes to make a portrait. But it was fun trying.”

What I learned:

“From the first time I used Lensbaby lenses, I discovered that the creative, unique blur effect triggers my sense of creativity—my sense of visual poetry.”


Lensbaby Composer Pro with Plastic Optic. Photo by Christopher Galluccio.

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Plastic Optic*. Photo by Christopher Galluccio.

The first thing you see isn’t always the thing you value most in the long run.

That’s why Christopher Galluccio intentionally crafts his shots to leave out the detail and highlight the emotion of the moment. This emotion is where he finds the wonder and freedom of expression he hopes to use to change expectations for portrait photography.

Galluccio initially found it difficult to push the boundaries of fine art. Potential clients didn’t understand the way he was using blur, mostly because he didn’t understand how to get the most out of Lensbaby lenses and optics.

Before using Lensbaby, Galluccio would experiment with everything under the sun. Vaseline. Homemade lenses. Virtually everything.

But when he started using Lensbaby, he firmly believed in the vision of blur. He wanted to highlight how blur not only gives him views of others when he’s shooting portraits, but views of other’s souls. And after mastering the lenses, he’s been able to bring his ethereal style to the masses.

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Plastic Optic. Photo by Christopher Galluccio.

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Plastic Optic. Photo by Christopher Galluccio.

“Details tell too much of the story,” he says. “I wanted to capture my subjects as they are on the inside: their souls, their emotions.”

Galluccio relies on the Lensbaby Composer Pro to not only deliver dreamy blur, but to deliver it consistently. And now he wants to use Lensbaby lenses to challenge the definition of portrait photography.

“I want to reveal the art that’s inside of people,” he says, “but also maintain some sense of mystery and freedom so a viewer can decide what the image means to them.”

It’s been a journey that’s balanced doubt and rejection with confidence and continued success. With an upcoming book of fine art portraits coming out, he hopes to continue to take portrait photography to new heights.

“Lensbaby has allowed me to photograph the soul of a subject,” Galluccio says. “And a person’s soul is always the highest, most beautiful version they have to offer the world.”

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Plastic Optic. Photo by Christopher Galluccio.

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Plastic Optic. Photo by Christopher Galluccio.

Tips from the photographer:

What worked best:

“I like to call it “The Lensbaby Cradle Effect.” It’s the heavenly glow of blur that really gets my photography going. When I take full-length portraits, I try to take advantage of the tilt-and-shift effect of the floor. It creates a curve that cradles the subject and accentuates the emotion.”

What didn’t:

“I struggled with stopping down. It took away the joy I get from using Lensbaby lenses. Also, when I try to pre-visualize the image I want to create, I usually end up overthinking it. My best work comes from experimenting.”

What I learned:

“It’s essential to look beyond photography for inspiration. That’s where the real opportunity for learning comes from. I think this is why I started sketching out my ideas for photographs before shooting them. It taught me that less really is more.”

*The Plastic Optic is a discontinued Optic in the Optic Swap System. The most similar Optic Swap Optic that is currently available is the Sweet 50 which Christopher also uses,  or the Velvet 56 lens.

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