Get great portraits with these 3 lenses

Written by Bernardita

Did it happen to you like it did to me?

The subject I most wanted to try and learn since I started was portraiture. There are few things more expressive than a person’s face. And through our portraits we can touch the viewer.

WARNING: ONCE YOU ENTER THE WORLD OF PORTRAITURE, YOU WILL NEVER WANT TO LEAVE, PORTRAITS ARE ADDICTIVE.

I want to share with you three of my favorite portrait lenses, the ones I use and why. Every good photographer should know about portraits, because they are complex, challenging and very special photographs.

LET’S KEEP GROWING TOGETHER ON THIS PATH AND TODAY LET’S TALK ABOUT EMOTIONS, PORTRAITS AND LENSES.

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The most important thing is to know how to look inside that person, to see a little piece of their soul. If you achieve this, and with some basic notions, you will be able to achieve impressive portraits.

The protagonist of the shot

A portrait is not just any photograph, it is magical, when we see it we are immersed in it. The feeling of that person envelops us and takes us to places we never thought a photograph could transport us.

Each color, each line of expression, the direction and weight of a look, generates something in whoever sees that photo.

IT IS IMPRESSIVE

Portraits communicate a lot!

Each portrait is unique and unrepeatable, because that person will never again have that exact expression on his or her face.

A moment, a capture and a lens that must be totally synchronized to achieve that ideal portrait.

Remember the most important thing, no one succeeds overnight, portraits are difficult to achieve.

You have to work hard, prepare a lot, and I assure you that you will find success!

Before I tell you about lenses, here are some tips for a perfect portrait

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1. PREPARE YOUR SESSION

  • Get inspired
  • Prepare your equipment
  • Find a nice and suitable location
  • Know what light to use
  • Bring the right accessories
  • Take care of your wardrobe and hair

2. THE EQUIPMENT

  • Camera with interchangeable lenses
  • Fixed lens or fixed aperture zoom
  • (50 f1.8, 85 f.8, 135 f 1.8-2.0, 70-200 f2.8)
  • Macro lenses are useful for details
  • Tripod and self-timer
  • Background (paper, wall)
  • Flash or continuous light
  • Light reflectors

3. MASTER THE TECHNIQUE

  • Focus
  • Exposure triangle
  • Correct exposure
  • The aperture
  • Depth of field
  • Shutter speed and sharpness
  • Flash

4. CONCERN ABOUT

  • Taking care of the composition
  • Taking care of the background (no distracters)
  • Choosing whether to use natural or artificial light
  • What type of portrait you will take (formal, informal, family, group, self-portrait)
  • Direct the poses
  • Be attentive to body language and hands.

5. AND FINALLY AND VERY IMPORTANT

Editing, which must be neat and achieve a skin of good color, luminous and smooth but preserving its texture.

Don’t panic, it looks like a lot of work but with a lot of practice and the lens tips I’m going to give you, you’ll be able to keep moving forward very smoothly!

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One moment, one lens, one shot.

Each lens is different, it achieves different things and its settings are special depending on what we want to achieve.

I really like to take portraits with any lens, I’ve even used a wide angle for a portrait in the desert a couple of years ago, but the three lenses I’m going to share with you are the ones I’ve used the most and that’s why I can talk about them with more authority.

This post is not intended to be a lens review of sorts, I just want to tell you about my settings, my experience with each, and show you photos I’ve taken with each.

  1. My camera is a Sony A7III and I currently have two lenses, a Sony 85mm f1.8 and a Sigma Art 135mm f1.8. I used to use a Nikon D750 with a Tamron 70-200 G2 f2.8. These three lenses are spectacular and I will tell you about them.

Lens 85 mm f1.8

The one that doesn’t miss a single session

  • As the title says, this is the lens that accompanies me to every session, it is useful for family portraits, or when I want to include something more scenic in my image, close-up portraits, and also for indoor portraits.
  • Mine is a Sony FE 85 f1.8, but the important thing is the focal length, 85 mm in Full Frame mount, in Crop Sensor this focal length is approximately equivalent to 135 mm. If you want to know more about crop factor read this article here.
Sony FE 85mm 1.8

Sony FE 85mm 1.8

Why do I like it?

  • It is a very bright lens like all Prime lenses and its image quality is spectacular.
  • It does not distort faces
  • It has a very nice bokeh
  • The focus is very fast and very accurate
  • It is lightweight

What settings do I use with this lens?

  • Although I can open the aperture up to f 1.8, I never use this aperture, I always use between f2.0 and 2.8.
  • For portraits I always use speeds faster than 1/125.

Portraits with 85

Lens 135mm f1.8

The artist

  • The artist is the lens that allows me to take more posed, thoughtful, calm shots and capture the expression of sensations, emotions and ideas.
  • The 135mm focal length compresses the background very well and I love it, but it is not an appropriate focal length for groups or family portraits, that’s why it accompanies me a lot in individual portraits achieving my art almost from the shot.
  • Mine is a Sigma Art 135mm f1.8 for Sony. Art is the most pro line of the brand. Canon, Nikon and Sony have their own 135mm prime lenses and they are excellent as well.
SIGMA ART 135 mm-Bernardita Aguirre

SIGMA ART 135 mm

Why do I like it?

  • It is a very bright lens like all Prime lenses and its image quality is spectacular.
  • It has an exceptional bokeh
  • Its sharpness is perfect

What settings do I use with this lens?

  • Although I can open the aperture up to f 1.8, I never use this aperture, I always use between f2.0 and 2.8.
  • For portraits with this lens I always use speeds higher than 1/160 (the minimum speed should be at least the equivalent to the focal length of the lens, to avoid blur).

What should I watch out for?

  • The focus is sometimes not very fast
  • It is quite a big and heavy lens

Portraits with the «artist»

Lens 70-200mm f2.8
The best friend

  • My best friend, it is my faithful companion, a professional quality variable focal length lens, it allows me to take the most varied shots, even of a single scene, I can take 3 different portraits, full body, moving and close up, it is very versatile and for children’s photos it is incredible.

  • At 70mm I can get shots where I can include a lot of the location and still have my subject in focus and at 200mm it compresses the scene so much that the background has a very nice blur. I used it for all kinds of portraits, family, group, artistic.

  • Mine was a Tamron 70-200mm G2 f2.8 for Nikon. Amazing lens, perfect colors and very accurate. There are Nikon, Canon, Sigma and Sony lenses of this focal length. Now the Tamron 70-180 mm f2.8 for Sony is out and I’m waiting for it.

70-200 mm f2,8-Bernardita Aguirre

Why do I like it?

  • It’s a very versatile lens, allowing me to play with different images of the same scene, without having to interrupt my models.
  • The focus is fast and very precise
  • The sharpness is excellent

What settings do I use with this lens?

  • I generally use f 2.8, and it works great.
  • For portraits with this lens I always use speeds higher than 1/125 at 70 mm, 1/160 at 135 and 1/250 at 200 mm (the minimum speed should be at least the equivalent focal length of the lens, to avoid blur).

What should I keep an eye on?

It is quite a big and heavy lens

Portraits with my best friend

And you, do you like portrait photography?

Are you starting out as a photographer? Are you passionate about portraits? If so, can I help you?

Tell me below in the comments!

Best regards, Berni.

¡Hello! I´m Bernardita Aguirre

I am a Chilean photographer and I help photographers to find their unique stamp and families to capture priceless moments.

I studied pedagogy at the University, but I have dedicated almost all my life to the artistic area, and I have been able to unite my two passions and turn them into my work: teaching and the art of photography!

I will share with you my methodology, my art and my photography. If you want to learn with me I offer several courses that can help you.

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