The 50mm Lens Photography Challenge

February 13, 2014

The 50mm Lens Photography ChallengeThe most common lens included with a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera is the 50mm. It has a fixed focal length, which means it doesn’t zoom, so it makes a great training tool for beginning photographers. If you want to improve your shooting skills, take this 50mm photography challenge. Complete these assignments by only using your feet and the 50mm lens to get up close with your subjects. It’s not as simple as you think!


One of the most difficult photography subjects to work with is people. That’s why many photographers start by photographing vivid sunsets and blossoming flowers. A 50mm lens allows you to get comfortable taking pictures of people from various distances. This exercise builds your confidence to talk with a person whom you know little about but must capture in a positive way.

Ask a friend to bring a friend whom you’ve never met to a park for an afternoon of outdoor portraits. Your assignment is to take three portraits of the new person. One should be a close-up head and shoulders shot, the second, a mid-range portrait from the waist up, and finally a full-length head-to-toe picture.


It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and zoom into sports action halfway across the basketball court or football field. During this photography challenge, you’ll become more confident at timing your sports captures and getting a good shot when it comes close to you. Don’t rely on technology; hone your timing skills and reaction time.

Go to a local high school game. Whether it’s volleyball, track, football or wrestling, plan to get a great action shot that you’d be proud to submit to the local newspaper. The key components are showing emotion, action and the ball (if applicable). Really watch the athletes and focus on documenting the highlights of the game. Move yourself around the sidelines, mat or gym to get the best vantage points and angles.


Finally, end the 50mm photography challenge by photographing kids. This will test your skills at approaching people, following action and being able to capture great moments. Kids move quickly and often will tell you what they think, so be ready to roll with the punches.

If you have friends who have children, go to their house and take pictures while their children play in the backyard. They can play on a swing set, kick a soccer ball around or go for a dip in the pool. Your challenge is to get a great snapshot that the mother would want to frame. Since your lens doesn’t zoom, you have to get close to the children to get a tight shot without too much background. This might mean swinging on a swing next to the little ones or ducking behind the soccer goal to get a creative angle.

Learning to tackle photography projects without the ease of a zoom lens improves your overall technique. Once you’ve become comfortable approaching people and following the action, a zoom lens can further enhance your shooting skills.

Do you prefer to used a fixed focal length lens, like a 50mm, or a zoom lens? Tell us which one and why in the comments below.

Image source: Stock.xchng