There are sooooo many things that go into creating photos at a portrait session. Equipment is just a very small part of that. I always hesitate a little to share too much about what equipment I use, but beginning photographers can put too much stock into that, thinking if they go out and buy the right thing, that their photos will look like they want, which is not at all the case.
With that being said, what equipment a photographer uses, and in particular what kind of lenses, does really contribute to her overall style. So I thought I’d take a moment to tell you about my favorite lens.
My favorite lens in my bag is a Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens with Auto-focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras. I love the look of this lens. It’s a prime lens, which is generally all I shoot with.
Zoom Lenses vs. Prime Lenses
There are two main types of lenses: zoom lenses and prime lenses.
If you have a entry level DSLR, then the lens that came with it (which we often refer to as the “kit lens”) is probably a zoom lens.
Zoom lenses provide ease in mobility…you can zoom in and out from where you stand. Prime lenses do not zoom to move in and out – you have to move your feet. However, the benefit in using this type of lens is that a detailed and sharper image is produced. The focus is quicker with this type of lens and will allow more light in your camera.
Why I love my 85 mm 1.8
I absolutely love the creamy backgrounds I can get with this lens. It’s super sharp, fast, and the 85 mm focal length is perfect for flattering portraits.
Why it doesn’t stay on my lens all the time
If you’ve had a portrait session with me, you’ll notice that I switch lenses A LOT. That’s because I do generally only photograph with prime lenses. If I’m shooting with my 85 mm, and your toddler comes to close to me, then I’ll be photographing their nose hairs and not much else. I can’t zoom out with my lens, since it’s not a zoom lens. So I either have to back up, or switch lenses. Also, I want to give you a variety of images for your gallery so I don’t always use the same lens. For example, if I want a wide photograph that takes in the entire scene, I’ll switch to my 20 mm lens that will include a lot more of the background in the photo than my 85 mm would. Here is are two photos taken from relatively the same spot.
The first is with my 85 mm and the second is with my 20 mm. You can clearly see the difference. Notice how with the 20 mm, you can see a wide view of the town in the background that you can’t see with the 85mm. I also stepped a lot closer to Gabe to get the second shot with the 20 mm lens.
A suggestion for new photographers:
My 85 mm is by far not the most expensive lens out there, but it isn’t the cheapest either, and not what I recommend (yet) for those trying to learn photographer. But I DO usually recommend that new photographers consider a prime lens. But instead of an 85 mm, i recommend the much less expensive, 50 mm (sometimes called a “nifty 50” or a 35 mm. Either of these will be a good overall lens that will perform way better in lower light than your kit lens. Are you into photography? What’s your favorite lens? If you are interested in learning more about photography, ask me about my photography workshop for moms.
Gabe’s Senior Portrait Session
One thing I love about shooting Senior Portrait sessions, is that I am able to use my favorite 85 mm lens a lot more than I can at a family session with little kids, because I have more control over my subjects, who generally stand where I tell them to (unlike an energetic two year old.) I also love that Senior Sessions allow me to play with creative backgrounds and framing more than I typically can with younger kids.
I have to brag a little on the guys I’ve photographed lately for Senior photos. They’ve done an amazing job, Gabe included. It’s no secret that the guys are normally having these photos done just because mama wants them, but that hasn’t stopped the guys I’ve photographed lately from doing a fabulous job. Their mama’s should be very happy & proud of their young men.