An outstanding portrait is about a compelling character, feeling or story, not just picture-perfect lighting or focus. Discover why professional photographer, Frank Doorhof chooses Lensbaby when he’s looking to create something unique and why in-camera effects always beat Photoshop.
When did you discover your passion for visual creation?

I think very early in life, my parents and grandparents were very much into video and photography and I really took my interest from them. While growing up I shot some photos as hobby and later switched to video (also hobby). At one point I joined a local photo club and came into contact with model photography. I didn’t really like it at first but then I saw a documentary about David Lachapelle and I was hooked. It’s about more than just shooting a beautiful girl, but really making it interesting. It’s been a huge boost and source of inspiration.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

Creating something from nothing – be it drawing or photography/video and music. It’s the idea that there was nothing and you and your team are responsible for creating something new. It’s an immense challenge, but so much fun!

What do you think about the concept of perfection in regards to creative output?

Perfection can be many things but for me, perfection is not just lighting and focus, it’s about the story. Of course, you want your image to have the focus in the right place but if I have two images – one perfect in focus, and one that is a bit blurry but is stronger in character/story – well, the latter always wins.

How did you discover Lensbaby?

I love playing with older lenses and got a tilt-shift lens for my RZ67ProII,  I loved that effect to play with. I found Lensbaby interesting due to their unique way of approaching creativity in lenses. My first experience was a mixed one, outside it worked great, but I had to change my focus screen in my camera to make manual focusing easier, and the idea of changing discs for aperture was unique but also a bit troublesome. Lots has changed with the release of the Composer Pro II. Lensbaby has created a system that is super flexible but also very easy to carry around, and the quality is miles ahead of my first experience. Now add the amazing Velvet 56 & 85 lenses and you’ll quickly see that Lensbaby is the choice if you want something unique and creative.

How is the experience of shooting with a Lensbaby lens different than other lenses?

Without a doubt, the biggest difference is the creativity it brings. There are so many options and accessories that help me with unique looks if I’m not feeling that inspired. And the cool thing is that it’s all in-camera. Some people will think you can create the effects in post-production, but you really can’t. The camera records depth (objects that are closer and further away are in a different focus zone) and when you use Photoshop it will view everything as a 2D space. So when using a focus fall off effect, straight out of the lens is just much more convincing.

What is the most challenging aspect of shooting with Lensbaby lenses?

For a lot of people shooting manual will be a challenge at first, but with modern cameras, it’s very easy and when you get used to it you’ll see your speed and accuracy increase. Overall, I love that the lenses all are unique in character but are razor sharp when needed. The creativity it brings is just an enormous boost for your photography!

All images shot with Velvet 85.
Check out more of Frank’s work on his website, Instagram, and YouTube.

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