‘The 85 challenge’ by Roy Krabbe – Photography inspiration

The 85 Challenge: 85 portraits – 85 days – 85mm lens

How did you come up with the 85 challenge?

When our friend Roy Krabbe was sick one day, he bought the Nikon Z 85mm f/1.2 S to cheer himself up. His ‘portrait canon’, he calls it. He decided to use it to boost his development as a photographer, by challenging himself. The 85 challenge was born. He gave himself 85 days to make 85 portraits with his 85mm lens. He told us all about it. Let his story inspire you to create your own challenge!

What makes a 85mm lens so special?

The 85mm lens is famous for its wonderful portrait skills. A subtle lens that gives you the opportunity to get some background in your frame, without distorting the subject (which you get when you use a wide-angle lens). The 85mm lets you come a little closer to your subject, which makes it easier to communicate. The lens creates a beautiful bokeh, which means the background is very blurry and will not distract from the subject.

Who did you use as your models for the 85 challenge?

I just asked people whom I found interesting. I either knew them already, or I met them randomly just waiting for the bus, or enjoying a waffle in a café at the table next to them.

The first person I asked to model for this project was Erik, the owner of the coffee shop I regularly visit to have a cappuccino.

What are your tips for this 85 challenge or a similar one?

Tip 1

Communicate clearly and make sure your model feels comfortable.

Tip 2

Show the model the photos you took after a few good shots. When they see how well their portraits are turning out they gain confidence, which likely improves their posing even more.

Tip 3

By challenging yourself to shoot a portrait every day, you get to know a lot of new people (potential new customers, or friends!)

Other photography challenge ideas

  • Get your whole family to pose for portraits – collect them all 🙂
  • If you have some patience: get a shot of your kid every morning. This will result in an amazing visual timeline from baby to toddler to child to adult.
  • Timelapse: Get a shot from the same building every day while it is being built, or your garden that grows through the seasons of the year. Create a stop-motion movie with your photos. Watch a sped up version of real life.
  • Choose a color and shoot only photos that are that color. A great way to collect same-colored photos to match in a gallery wall. More personal and original than any kind of wallpaper!
  • Find letters in every day things. Create the whole alphabet from things that look like letters.