RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PORTRAIT LENSES
|50mm – 200mm||f/2.8 or Larger||Telephoto||Primes & Zooms|
Before you even pull out your camera you should take some time getting to know who you’re going to be photographing. Even if you’re working with a model and have a specific vision for what kind of shot you want, make sure to spend some time talking with them and communicating what you’re trying to do.
Good portrait photographers capture or evoke a sense of emotion in their images. This is a lot easier when you understand the personality of your subject.
Lighting is one of the best tools you have to communicate the feeling of your picture. After all, photography is about capturing light. Often you’ll want a nice diffused light source, which is why the “golden” or “blue” hours are so popular. You can also achieve this in a studio with good lighting equipment. Although don’t forget to experiment with strong lights or shadows to add more drama or contrast to a shot.
One of the best ways to get great shots requires a lot of work before you ever get to a shoot. Spend time looking at other’s portrait photography. This will give you a sense for what you like, as well as what you might want to avoid.
You can even make your own personal gallery or clipping of compositions and poses that you like to have a future reference.
Some of the best results come when you’re able to capture genuine reactions and expressions. Don’t try to force this. Just be patient. As your subject sees that you’re not hurried or anxious they too will start to relax and open up.
Most photographers will use a 50mm or 85mm Prime for portraits. Below we have a quick breakdown of the focal lengths we recommend.
35mm lenses – Great for group shots or for showing more than just your subject isolated (perhaps their workplace, the environment, streets, nature and so on).
50mm lenses – Ideal for full body shots and casual shooting
85mm lenses – Perfect combination of focal length and bokeh, and are also most usable for head shots
135-200mm lenses – Best for when you can’t be too close to your subject, or you’re looking for the most background blur and flat faces due to such long lengths
Having a lot of posing ideas in mind is key. One simple trick is to have your subject do a 2/3 turn away from the camera, rather than looking at you straight on. If you need some ideas here are a bunch of great examples of poses.
A couple other reminders. Try and have them hide their hands. This can be in their pockets, under their chin, on someone’s shoulder, etc. This will help make their face the focus of the image. Also have them slightly tilt their chin down to avoid nostril shots.