May 04, 2016



Freelensing is, quite literally, freeing the lens from the camera body. You may wonder – why on earth would anyone want to do that? Couldn’t you drop and break the lens, or allow dust inside your camera body? Possibly, yes. But aside from the cheap thrill of living photographing on the edge, there are many creative reasons for freelensing.






The effect of freelensing is similar to using a tilt-shift lens or a lensbaby, creating a “sweet spot” of sharp focus, while shifting everything else into creamy softness.

Creatively, I get bored easily, so for me, freelensing is a way of feeling inspired and breathing new life into my photography. Just like you might experience with a new lens, tried subjects and scenes became new again as I started exploring this technique. I found a way to give my images more depth and create photos that convey deeper feeling, two things I always strive for in my photography. It has made me become a better observer, taught me to slow down, shoot with intention, and helps me notice more of the small things and magic surrounding me in everyday life.






Ready to give it a try? If you are new to freelensing, the easiest way to get started is with a 50mm lens. You don’t have to risk your expensive, high quality glass. A cheap, used, or even partly broken lens will do just fine. Bonus – a plastic lens is lighter and smaller and therefore easier to hold.

Turn your camera to manual, figure out your exposure, then turn the camera off. Make sure your lens is set to manual focus and infinity, detach the lens, and turn your camera back on. Hold the lens right in the mount, and tilt or move it forward slightly as you look through the viewfinder. Less is more – think millimeters, not inches. You’ll see the focal plane shift across your image as you tilt and move the lens.






Some tips for beginners:

– I recommend starting with a stationary subject or still life for the first few tries
– Take lots of photos – what you see is not always what you get (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing)
– Picking a multidimensional subject or scene will up your chances of achieving a sweet spot







The fun thing about freelensing are the endless possibilities this technique presents. Once you get the hang of the basics, take it a step further:

– Try moving subjects – my wiggly baby is a really fun challenge to freelens
– Turn your lens around and give macro freelensing a try (back of the lens facing your subject)
– Give other lenses a go – you don’t have to be limited to a 50mm. I’ve seen gorgeous shots with an 85mm, and am currently experimenting with my zoom lenses and wide angle prime.
– Experiment with positioning yourself in different ways relative to the light source to allow for light leaks
– Hold your lens further away from the camera body while moving closer to your subject and see what happens
– Create some intentionally out of focus images
– Freelensed video, anyone?


In conclusion, the main thing is to have fun. Embrace the unpredictability of it – let go of missed shots and celebrate happy accidents. There is no right or wrong. Follow your intuition and let your heart lead your eye. I can’t wait to see what you create!


Thank you, Barb, for the fantastic introduction to freelensing! We can’t wait to put your tips into action.

For more of Barb’s photography, be sure to bookmark her web page, Like Endless Summer Photography on Facebook, and follow her on Instagram.

share this post:

TweetShare on FacebookEmail

About the Contributor: Katie, our Editorial Manager, is our wordsmith and communications extraordinaire!  After college and graduate school, she worked in the nonprofit world, and briefly in politics. She realized she'd be quickly burned out, and started writing for various lifestyle websites. Before landing at NAPCP, Katie shot product photography for Etsy shops and other small business owners. Katie also works with Pinterest, as a member of their Pinfluencer team. She is passionate about making the world a happier, more beautiful place! Katie lives for her husband and two children, updating their totally 90's home, and finding joy in the small things. Even washing dishes.


comment on this post

Leave comment

No comments have been added yet

liked this post? img you might also like...
  • The 2017 Best New Emerging Child Photographer Winner!
    We are overjoyed to share with you the winner of NAPCP’s 2017 Best New Emerging Child Photographer Contest. We received hundreds of nominations and were blown away by the caliber of new photographers brought to our attention. From 25 semifinalists, our esteemed panel of judges narrowed the field to only 6 finalists. Voters submitted tens […]
  • Meet the Photographer: Aly Elliott of Roots and Wings Photography
    Welcome, welcome to the blog, Aly! Aly lives and photographs in Bloomington, Indiana. In her adorable studio on the square, or in a variety of locations in and around Bloomington, Aly strives to create memories and preserve fleeting moments. We’re so excited to get to know her better. Meet Aly! Favorite Movie: I’m a movie […]
  • New in the NAPCP Store: Snapshot Travel Guide
    Have you been looking for that perfect summer travel buddy? Someone who will inspire you, push you to explore your surroundings and take it all in? Well, we’re here to tell you a secret … you don’t need one! We’ve created the perfect travel buddy for our photography-loving friends (that you can print)! Introducing the […]
  • 2017 Best New Emerging Child Photographer Finalists Announced!
    Our judges spent time getting to know each and every one of the 25 semifinalists and have chosen the top six photographers for NAPCP’s 2017 Best New Emerging Child Photographer! Your 2017 Best New Emerging Child Photographer finalists are here and we couldn’t be more excited to share these awesome artists with you all (from […]
img find a photographer
in your area

We are so delighted that you are here. The National Association of Professional Child Photographers is an association whose mission is to promote and support the artistry and integrity of professional child photographers. To accomplish this mission, NAPCP provides the most comprehensive resources for its members, bringing together a community of passionate artists committed to growth in their skills, their artistry, and their businesses. (formally pronounced "NAP-C-P") is a place where professional child photographers can come and connect, learn, teach, aspire and grow. It is also a valuable resource for parents who are looking for a professional child photographer in their area, and want to be inspired and educated about our specialized industry.

img award winning photos click here to view

img most recent issue
img vendors we love
napcp supporters

img helpful articles napcp resources
  • June Inspired Magazine: Featuring the First Half 2017 Image Competition Winners!

    Click here to read our June magazine featuring the winners of our First Half 2017 Image Competition as well as the 25 semifinalists for the 2017 Best New Emerging Child Photographer Contest! Don’t forget, Inspired is now printable! Print your copy straight from MagCloud, and share your favorite pieces with friends, family and clients.   […]

  • Summer Birthday Pack: Printables, DIYs and so much more!

    Summer is officially upon us folks! Time to soak up some sun, enjoy the longer days and hunker down for the wave of birthday invites to soon flood your inbox. But fear not! If you have been tasked with planning an epic summer fling, it just so happens that we have an equally epic birthday kit perfect for […]

  • May Inspired Magazine: Featuring the Inspired Gallery Event Winners!

    Click here to read our May magazine featuring the winners of our Inspired Gallery Event! Don’t forget, Inspired is now printable! Print your copy straight from MagCloud, and share your favorite pieces with friends, family and clients.   Save Save

  • Announcing the Inspired Gallery Event Winners!

    Hello friends! After much excitement and anticipation, we are absolutely thrilled to announce the winners of our Inspired by NAPCP Gallery Event. In contrast to our bi-annual International Image Competitions, the NAPCP Inspired Gallery Event was creative in nature and gave both members and non-members the chance to place in one of three categories — […]