I'm not a fan of flat lighting. I nearly always feel as though photographic light should have direction. Especially for photographs of people.

Two things I like in portraits seem contradictory. I like big, big light sources and I like to see them bright. I never want to go to "paper white" with my highlights but I want to them to be bright enough to offset deep shadows.

The second thing I like in a good portrait is a deep, inky shadow somewhere in the photograph. When I photographed Michelle with her hat in my studio I used a four foot by six foot softbox on one side of her and put up a black velvet curtain, just out of frame, on the opposite side. I love the contrast. I love the fall off into darkness. For me it's all about balance.

But nothing technical matters at all if you don't connect with your subject. "Clicking with people is more important than clicking the shutter." - Alfred Eisenstadt. Photographer for Life Magazine.

Michelle and I worked on making cool portraits for several hours on the day that we got this image. We'd share gossip and chat and forget the camera for a while and then I'd see something in her gesture or expression that would make me think, "That's a great look. I need to get that!" and we'd get back into the photographic groove. I'd shoot two or three 12 shot rolls of film and then the conversation would veer off in another direction and we'd abandon the camera again until we were ready.

People don't seem to take enough time these days. They go into a shoot with all this stuff pre-planned and they doggedly persevere with their game plan no matter how off the rails it ends up being. I like to think of real portrait photography as the stuff we do in the interludes between grown up conversation about more important things; life, love, food. The images flow from the connection two people make. Not from superficial storyboards....

I've been trying to figure out just where my comfort level is with portrait focal lengths and APS-C cameras. I think I'm narrowing in on the right mix...

Fadya. Photographed with a Nikon D7100 and the older 85mm f1.8 AF lens.

I bought the 60mm f2.4 macro for the Fuji X system a few weeks ago and used it to very good effect on several shoots. I used it for a marketing assignment at Zach Theatre in support of their production of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" where it was both a great portrait lens and also vital for all the close ups I did on the principal actor's face. It's a great lens for casual portraits where you might want some "air" (space) around the subject. I like the way it renders portraits but found myself wanting a lens that's a little longer. A longer lens compresses space a bit more. I also decided I'd like a faster lens; preferably one that's very sharp wide open (ruling out some MF alt-brand offerings in the near range; sorry Samyang). I settled on the Fuji 90mm f2.0 and started reading reviews in earnest. 

How I wish I could get paid for just sitting in my comfortable office chair reading lens and camera reviews...

The folks at www.Lenstip.com and https://www.opticallimits.com both had glowing things to say about the lens. I was starting to get hooked but thought I'd look through my Lightroom library with hundreds and hundreds of thousands of photographs and see if the 135mm equivalent focal length was something I'd actually use in day-to-day work. Turns out I like that focal length a lot and have used it extensively over the years. 

But it was the $250 rebate that clinched the deal. I saw the price drop on Amazon.com and was about to push the "one-click" button until I remembered that we're blessed here in Austin with one of the finest bricks and mortar camera stores in all of north America. I went to their site and found that, of course, they have exactly the same rebate offer, the same price, and that I could drive up there on my way to lunch and walk out the door with my latest heart throb lens. So I did. 

Of course, the benefits of buying local are legion so I won't go into that here; you already know this. Especially so if your access to a local dealer has vanished.

I checked out the lens and kept the boxes and packing material in the bag the store supplied. If something had been wrong, off, jinky, or otherwise with the lens I knew I could call the store and they'd send a replacement over ASAP and pick up the faulty product on their way out my door. But, of course, the lens has tested out to be exactly as it should be. I'm keeping the 90mm and an XH1 with me for the rest of the day, just looking for opportunities to, A: Discover Austin's Next Supermodel and, B: Test out the qualities of my latest lens acquisition. 

I included the image of Fadya, above, because it's an example of one of my consistent uses for a lens in this focal length and, well, because I think Fadya is cool. 

It's now safe and easy to comment. Try it out. No more muss or fuss. Just pure opinion launching at its best. 

And since I like the Fuji 90mm I'm actually going to include a link to the product: