Lomography Petzval Artist: Portraits from Photographer Adam Bronkhorst

Lomography Petzval Artist: Portraits from Photographer Adam Bronkhorst

OK i'll admit it.......I'm a very slow blogger.

I'm sorry.

This article first appeared on the Lomography website at least six months ago. Just after I was lent a prototype Petzval lens, which is based on a very old Russian manual design, to road test and give my thoughts on.


Adam Bronkhorst is a Brighton-based photographer who focuses on people and portraiture. He teaches all kinds of photography through different means – using a DSLR, studio lighting and even film cameras. His portfolio of work is so stunning, we decided to crown him as one of our Petzval Artists. We let him test the new Petzval lens to its full potential and the results are just beautiful.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into photography.

My name is Adam Bronkhorst and I shoot (photograph) people for a living. I LOVEportraiture and interacting with people. It may be through corporate head shots, weddings or editorial portraits for magazines. Either way I’m happy shooting people and finding out their story. I’ve always loved photography ever since I was a kid. I loved playing around with my mum’s SLR, and trying to focus it as a little boy; photography has always been a part of my life since then. I’ve written a couple of books about photography (one on phone photography and another on lo-fi film photography). I regularly shoot for newspapers and magazines as well as big name brands and I teach photography workshops as well.

How was it shooting with the New Petzval lens?

It took me a while to get used to the lens, as it’s a really unusual lens for me. It got a lot of attention at first when I started to use it, which was good in a way as it broke the ice and got me chatting to people, and gave me an excuse to take their photo. I like working close to people and really interacting, so the 85mm focal length was a bit out of my comfort zone as I really had to stand back, but I love pushing myself so that was all good. It also takes a while to get used to the sweet spot of focus smack bang in the middle of the frame. I spent most of the time shooting without the aperture rings in, as the images look so great with such a shallow depth of field and it’s got great focus drop off, although you really need to be spot on with your manual focus. I really experimented when I was away with my wife and kids, but also managed to use the lens for a few portrait shoots including a studio shoot and I took it to a wedding, I’m really pleased with the results and got a load of varied images from different situations, so it was a great ‘road test’ and brilliant fun.

What do you love about film photography?

To be honest, I know I shouldn’t say this, but I’ve fallen out of love a little with film photography. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a fantastic medium and capable of incredible results, but I’m just loving digital at the moment. Which is why I was so pleased that the lovely people at Lomography have introduced the Petzval lens that I can use on my camera. This way I get the best of both worlds.

In your opinion, what makes the perfect portrait?

Well I think the perfect portrait captures a little of the subject’s personality and makes the viewer want to find out more. The image has to be interesting and from a photographers point of view, it should be good fun to shoot and you should have more of an understanding about the person after you take the image, than you do before.

Have you had any difficult or challenging situations throughout your photography career?

I think in any career / job / shoot there are always challenging situations, but it’s how you overcome them and what you do to get the shot that sets the great photographers apart from the good photographers.

What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to become a professional portrait photographer?

This is a tricky one, because being a professional photographer is a hard way to earn a living. There is just so much competition out there. Don’t get me wrong it’s lovely being my own boss and taking photos for a living. But like any one running a business it’s 80% running the business and 20% photographing. I have to say though, that if you enjoy your photography, you’ll have much more fun if you’re not a professional and shooting what you want and when you want.

Thank you, Adam, for taking part in this interview.


Well there you go, only six months late.

A massive thank you to the wonderful folk over at Lomography especially the lovely Liana.