My Obsession With The Canon 17mm f/4L TS-E

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While the majority of my work focuses around any and all aspects of wedding photography (bridals, engagements, consultations, albums, editing, etc, etc), architecture photography really inspires me. More importantly, the Canon 17mm f/4L TS-E Tilt Shift Lens inspires me to take architecture shots in my downtime. Some of these shots here are actually part of a personal project of mine. I’ll be soon moving into an awesome loft near Downtown Dallas, and for the first time ever I decided that I wanted to hang nothing by my work on the walls. Conceited? Maybe.

It’s easy to assume that photographers just like to plaster their own stuff all over their walls, but the exact opposite has been the case for me. Of course my office has beautiful canvas wraps that line the walls, but that’s only because clients need to see samples of finished products before they decide to invest in my business to capture their moments. When it comes to still life, however, I have usually been very passive. Mostly this is due to the overwhelming amount of weddings that I book year in and year out, but another reason lends itself to the fact that I have never really had a need to go out and make “art”.

Now don’t get me wrong, tons of wedding photographers look at their work as “art”. Personally, I’m just not one of them. To me it’s a collection of work, really. If you want to call it “art” or call me an “artist”, feel free. You won’t hear that come out of my mouth when it comes to my wedding photography though. Art to me purely comes out of one person seeking to illustrate something that inspires one sense or a collection of senses. Unfortunately, I believe that any form of money exchanging hands taints the ability to naturally and purely create art, but that’s just my own two cents. The few times that I have sold still life prints, they have been at cost only because of this fact. There are plenty of photographers out there that will readily disagree with me, and they have every right to. Artists have to make a living too, right?

I guess that’s where the great part of it comes in for me. Much like how many people have different skills to diversify themselves, photographers can do the same within their own industry with outstanding success. I know of some photographers that shoot some of the highest-end weddings you will ever see, all the while having their sports photography on the covers of regularly. It’s an amazing thing to be able to do. What does this have to do with a lens, you ask? The 17mm tilt shift is unlike any other lens that it’s my bag. It’s super wide at 17mm, but the tilt and shift functions provide it more utility than a standard lens does. While a normal wide angle lens would provide certain types of distortion when angled up towards a building, the functions of this lens allow me to mitigate, or most of the time even completely remove any such distortions. That’s why the tall buildings don’t look like they’re leaning over, and the roofs look like they should. It’s really one of those things that you need to experience to appreciate, but I’m glad I took the plunge on it. It’s definitely more of a luxury than a necessity in my case since I rarely pull it out at weddings and don’t get paid for architectural work. I guess if I was to quit wedding photography completely at some point, it would be easy for me to slim down my gear to my just 5D Mark II and this lens.

While weddings pay my bills and provide me the ability to work with people in a creative outlet, architecture fulfills something deeper. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I never have to worry about missing the moment (not that I would..), or returning emails or having to reschedule because it’s raining. The truth is that I may never actually know what draws me to architecture and my 17mm tilt shift. I think I would be perfectly satisfied never really knowing why.