Catherine MacBride is a creative photographer and artist from Dublin, Ireland. She finds joy in photographing ordinary, everyday objects, and creating tiny worlds made of paper as an escape for the imagination.
I have always taken photographs but never set out to be a professional photographer. That just evolved over time, and now it’s really wonderful working at something I love. My photography is a little like the Irish weather in that it’s very changeable. I’ll pretty much try my hand at everything. I enjoy photographing the fun side of ordinary, everyday objects, but I also really love making things to photograph, usually out of paper. I’ve made everything from houses to spaceships – creating little worlds as an escape for the imagination.
I love telling stories with my papercraft images and often they end up looking like a page from a book. You get to use your own imagination to decide what’s happening. Often it’s a very different story to the one I had in my head, but I like that. My images are now represented by a number of agencies including the artist owned co-op Stocksy United and have been used internationally for everything from book covers to children’s clothing.
Finding inspiration and fostering creativity
I’ve found that creativity rarely comes in a flash of inspiration. For me, it comes from turning up to take a photograph every day. I shoot every day as part of an ongoing nine-year photography/art project. Having to produce an image every single day really does keep you motivated to pick up your camera.
A willingness to try new things and make mistakes is a great foundation for my creativity too. Just because a shot didn’t work as you hoped doesn’t matter, you usually learn something from the experience which can spark a new idea. Creativity does seem to come in cycles though. Sometimes you are on a roll, and sometimes you end up staring at a blank page. After all these years I’ve learned to accept that and just turn up, camera in hand anyway.
My introduction to Lensbaby came through friends on Flickr years ago. Back then we would talk regularly about things like camera gear, textures, photography ideas, and Lensbaby. The first Lensbaby I bought was the Composer Pro with Sweet 35 optic. I now own an Edge 80, Sweet 50, Twist 60 and Velvet 56 – which is my go-to macro lens.
I tend to look to my Lensbaby lenses when I’m looking to take a shot that has a bit of magic to it – something more than just a straightforward image. Or when I have to take a 365 shot and there is nothing interesting around. Shooting with a Lensbaby does seem to change how I view the everyday ordinary and can turn it into something quite beautiful.
Testing out the Sol 45
I decided to try the Sol 45 in a Fuji mount this time so I could use it with my X-T2, which is my day-to-day camera. This was a big change as all my other Lensbaby lenses are a Canon mount. I was very pleased with its build quality, it looks beautiful on the X-T2 and feels sturdy and well-made. The location of the focus ring thew me initially but after a few hours with it, I didn’t have any problems. I used the Sol 45 with focus peak highlights enabled in the X-T2 which made focusing manually extremely easy and would recommend anyone shooting with this camera to use this function when shooting with a Lensbaby.
I’ve been shooting with Lensbaby since 2012 and have always found that each lens has its own subtle qualities – the Sol 45 was no exception. I found the blur to be buttery smooth when not using the bokeh blades. Unfortunately, the grey Irish winter weather was a little too dark for me to make the most of that lovely striped bokeh the blades can produce, but I’m looking forward to the long summer evenings to use them as I can see such potential.
Shooting 4K video with the X-T2 and Sol 45 distorted light beautifully and I was really pleased with the effects I got filming such a simple scene as rain on a car windscreen. It really gave the light a magical quality and I’m looking forward to playing with this more often. All-in-all, I’ve really enjoyed using the Sol 45.