The Role of Focal Length in Creating a Visual Signature

A visual signature in photography is how you see, capture and present the world around you. Focal length plays a pivotal role. But when it comes to purchasing a new lens, do you factor its focal length into your decision? In today’s video, photographer Ted Forbes talks about how he crafted his own visual signature and how optics play a role in defining your own.

The focal length you use greatly affects the way that you think and visualize the world around you. Like Forbes says, you could grab a 14mm lens for shooting architecture and include everything, but if you do the same work with a 50mm you will need to think before pressing the shutter.

“The more you spend, just being all over the place with [focal lengths], the less time you’re spending on getting really good at one of them.”

The more time you spend with a single focal length, the better you get at looking at the world through that literal lens. And this ease of visualization translates into your images as well. You start developing a certain fondness toward that focal length; eventually, others will associate you with that particular look. This is why Forbes very rightly suggests you be picky when it comes to investing in lenses. Instead of going by marketing or what others are doing, focus on building your own visual signature.

Do you have a particular focal length you like to work with? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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