Lenses | Contemporary
I bring my ideas to life with passion.
I am fascinated by people and I love to explore them and their world by taking their portraits. I started my photography career photographing artists and exhibiting these portraits in galleries in Paris and other cities around the world. This led to assignments in advertising worldwide.
I mostly use large format film cameras as well as SIGMA’s dp2 Quattro and fp. The large format cameras are for very specific portrait projects. The dp2 Quattro is my everyday go-to camera. It’s light and can accompany me throughout my day, and the design is unique and original which fits my personality and lifestyle perfectly.
When you first hold a SIGMA I series lens in your hand you can immediately feel that it is compact and light, but also that there is clearly no compromise on workmanship, as in all of SIGMA’s optics. But this lens feels a little different to others in that its design, from a purely aesthetic point of view, is more personal and more individual, as if it were saying, “I’m not like everyone else.” And indeed it isn’t. It’s a statement of uniqueness without compromising on functionality. From its robust, all-metal and glass design to its smooth manual focus ring and easy, yet firm, aperture adjustment clicks, it is built to last and be used over and over again. A lifetime of statement and function.
The focal length of 65mm is uncommon, but gives it a great advantage as a portrait lens for smaller spaces. I prefer to shoot portraits in natural light from a window. This creates deep shadows and gives volume and character to the portrait. In small Parisian apartments where the lack of space in front of windows doesn’t allow me to step back as much as would be needed with a typical portrait lens, the SIGMA I series 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary has given me the double benefit of being able to have beautiful bokeh while getting up close to the model. This permits better direction and intimacy that lets me express a new vision in my portraiture. How much I’ve enjoyed using this focal length has been a great surprise to me and it makes me wonder why 65mm primes aren’t more common! SIGMA has excelled again at pushing boundaries and challenging the way I shoot!
designer / creative director / photographer / cafe shop owner?
How did you come to work in this field?
Passion. This is the single most important driving force behind my endeavours. It may sound cliché, but it drives me to do things that simple thoughts could not. Creative ideas are common, but it’s the passion that decides whether and how they are brought to life. It shows you the path to take or not to take and it keeps you going when everything else tells you to stop. It’s about doing all you can to translate as precisely as possible what is inside you into something you want to share with the outside world. It doesn’t allow you to compromise. It pushes you to go beyond your own expectations to create something meaningful that can impact others, whatever the medium: photography, design, creative directing or owning a coffee shop.
Photography has been a part of my life since I was a young boy. During family holidays, we traveled by car exploring the world and both my mother and father documented these trips through photography. After getting the film developed, we would put the color slides into the projector and look at the photos, reliving the trip and the things we discovered. When I was 12 years old, I started to take pictures as well. I learned to develop black and white film and enlarge them at the local photo club. Since then, photography has been part of me, accompanying me in every experience and adventure. It is a way for me to discover the world, experience it, integrate with it and to express my vision of it. But most of all it is a way for me to keep (re)discovering myself, thus keeping my vision fresh.
This is not an easy question to answer! What even is style? Creating a personal style involves listening to yourself and knowing what you want to express. Then you can ask yourself what tools you have at your disposal that will best convey it. These tools could be lenses (wide or telephoto); lighting (bright or dim, frontal or angular); composition (tight or spacious); post production or choice of subject. Each element needs to contribute in its own particular way to what you want to illustrate. This question of style had been lingering for a long time in my mind until one sunny afternoon, while walking in the small back alleys of Taipei, I came across an architect’s studio that had the following quote from Le Corbusier displayed on its front window: “Where principle is put to work, not as recipe or as formula, there will always be style.”
which three words would you choose to describe
your experience of using these new lenses?
Design. Identity. Attitude.
When I first saw and held the SIGMA I series lenses, I felt something different, but familiar at the same time. Most camera lenses are functional – they get the job done. SIGMA’s attention to detail and craftsmanship really jump out. Compact and light, they feel built to last. Their design answers to function as well as aesthetics. All of this makes them unique. But behind all of that, I felt that care, precision, perfection, craftsmanship, design, thought and passion were put into the making of them. These are the same values that I try to put into everything I undertake. These core values that the SIGMA I series embodies are indeed a reflection of my own.
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Jeff Hargrove Photographer
Born in Santa Fé, USA. Currently resident in Paris. After studying linguistics and teaching, became a photographer focusing mainly in portrait photography. Also runs a cafe in Paris. Most recent work is ‘Paris Coffee Revolution’ covering the specialty coffee scene in Paris.
- Camera: SIGMA fp
- Lens: SIGMA 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary
- Valentine Chen
65mm F2 DG DN
An extension of your creative vision.Details