7 Types of Photos You Can Take With an 85mm Lens

Many photographers have an 85mm lens in their kit, and for good reason. The lens is more versatile than you might think, and many praise it for capturing sharp images and isolating subjects.

Knowing what your lens is suited for will help you get the most out of it, and you’ve come to the right place if that’s what you’re trying to figure out. This article will identify seven types of photography where you can capture great photos with an 85mm lens.

1. Portrait Photography

Photo of a model having her portrait taken

Many photographers buy the 85mm lens because they are interested in portrait photography. You don’t have to dig too deep to figure out why; it’s fantastic for bringing your subject to the fore. An 85mm lens is also a great way to bring out emotion in the people you’re photographing, and it has many other benefits.

“Bokeh” is one of the main reasons portrait photographers use an 85mm lens. By widening your aperture, you can blur the background and create several exciting effects. Plus, you can get creative and leave the aperture narrow enough that the viewer can still see what’s going on behind your subject.

You can use an 85mm portrait for portraits, but it’s just as useful for full-body images.

2. Street Photography

Yes, that’s right, you can use an 85mm lens for street photography. You might find this to be somewhat unconventional, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you use your lens correctly, you can achieve impressive results that will make your work stand out.


If you’re shy, you might be worried about street photography disturbing other people. You can use an 85mm to capture the shots you want from a distance, meaning you’re less likely to attract unwanted attention.

Street photography with an 85mm lens can also help you capture the history of your hometown and bring your photos to life. This brings the viewer closer to what is happening and you can also use the lens to capture portraits of people who live in the same place as you.

Using an 85mm lens for street photography requires a bit more planning than shooting from a wider angle. You’ll have less wiggle room with cropping, and you’ll have to think more about the story you want to tell.

3. Landscape Photography

Photo of a mountain at sunrise

Getting some fresh air is one of the most enjoyable activities anyone can do. Why not grab your 85mm lens and capture the beauty of your surroundings while enjoying the great outdoors?

Landscape photography is more complicated than it seems, but mastering the genre is a rewarding experience. Capturing what’s in front of you is a little easier if you’re using a 50mm or wider lens, so using the 85mm will be an interesting challenge.

Isolating your subjects is a good idea when capturing landscape photos with an 85mm lens. For example, you can choose a mountain or a tree and focus your story around that. And if you’re feeling really creative, consider grabbing your tripod and snapping photos of yourself isolated in nature.

4. Cityscape Photography

Photo of a cityscape

Many newbie photographers begin their journey by taking photos of cityscapes. But you don’t have to give up this genre just because you went from beginner to intermediate. Gaining more experience as a photographer puts you in an enviable position where you can create more unique works of art, and your toolbox will benefit from an 85mm lens.

You can get incredibly creative with an 85mm lens if you use it to capture cityscapes. If you found a terrific vantage point too far away with a wider angle lens, the 85mm will help you get what you want in your frame. Plus, you won’t need to crop and potentially sacrifice your image quality.

An 85mm lens can also help you get closer to specific buildings and capture something more interesting than a head-on shot. You can bring out textures, shapes, lights, and more.

5. Minimalist Photography

photo of a giraffe

The minimalism movement has become popular all over the world and many photographers have used it as inspiration for their photos. Negative space uses minimalism in a sense, and this practice is powerful for creating more unique content.

Why would you use an 85mm lens for minimalist photography? Simple: you can remove all unnecessary objects around you. Using an 85mm lens for minimalist photography will allow you to focus on a solitary subject. It’s a great tool for drawing people’s attention to the main focal point of your image, and you won’t have to worry about removing unwanted elements in post-production.

6. Wildlife Photography

Photo of a reindeer in a forest

Wildlife photography is one of the trickiest genres to master. To do this well, you’ll need to put enough distance between you and the creature you’re capturing; otherwise, you risk scaring it off. And in some cases, you could be putting your life in danger by getting too close.

An 85mm lens is great for creating distance between you and the wildlife you want to photograph. You can use it to capture the animal’s face, as well as create more depth in your photo by incorporating the environment as well. In some situations you may need a longer lens than 85mm, but this is a good starting point.

7. Sports Photography

Photo of a basketball crossing the net

You can use a wider angle lens for sports photography if you plan to capture the experience of a game from a fan’s perspective. But unless you have front-row seats, it’ll be hard to get the shots you want without a longer lens.

An 85mm lens is excellent for isolating your subjects and capturing important moments, such as goal celebrations. Additionally, you can capture the emotions on the athlete’s face, such as triumph, pain, and relief. Again, you might need a focal length wider than 85mm in some cases. But it’s not the worst option for sports like basketball and football.

Your 85mm lens is more versatile than you think

Many photographers consider the 85mm lens a great choice for portraits, but are unaware of its uses elsewhere. Although considered a specialist option, the 85mm lens is more versatile than you might think. It can deliver great results in multiple genres of photography, and using one will help unleash your creativity in ways you never thought possible.

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