7 Things You Need to Know in 2024

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You can take nice pictures with your phone. pYou can also find out more abouttraits with any camera and zero accessories – but if you want to level up your images, there are a few simple gear items you should buy.

That’s what this article is all about; I share the seven pieces of portrait photography equipment I highly recommend for beginners, and I give tips for how to use each item, too. By the time you’re done, you’ll have a clear list of portrait gear essentials (and you’ll be ready to nail your next portrait photoshoot, whether you’re photographing for fun or you’ve been hired by a client).

Let’s dive right in.

1. A standard zoom lens

Every portrait photographer must have a standard zoom lensIn their bag

What is a standard zoom? Basically, a standard zoom lens is a lens that ranges from 24mm wide to 70mm long, after cropping. On a full-frame DSLR, the classic 24-70mm zoom lens is a standard. On an APSC camera, a kit lens such as the 18-55mm can be used.

Some zooms go wider and further than this. However, you should be cautious before buying an 18-200mm lens. The more range a lens offers, the more likely that it will have optical problems, and the heavier and bigger it becomes.

What’s so great about standard zoom lenses for portraits?

Standard zooms offer a lot of versatility. You can take full-body and half-body photos at 35-50mm; at 70mm you can take a wide-angle shot. HeadshotsAt 24-35mm you can capture unique moments. environmental portraitsEven though Group shots. A standard zoom will save you from changing lenses every time you switch gears during a portrait session, and if you’re photographing families, you can do solo shots and group shots without a lens change, too.

Note that you do need to be careful when shooting portraits on the wide end – you’ll start to get distortion, especially when photographing at close range. I like to use 35mm for full body shots and 24mm for images that are more contextual. Just make sure to avoid getting too close to your subject when working with a wide focal length (unless you’re after the creative effects offered by perspective distortion, that is).

standard zoom lens

I recommend that you get a zoom lens with the widest possible maximum. The following are the details of the upcoming event:You can afford. You can capture beautiful backgrounds with an f/2.8 lens. bokeh, whereas you’ll struggle to achieve the same effect at f/4, f/5.6, or f/6.3. (If you can’t afford an f/2.8 lens, that’s okay – you can still capture beautiful photos. You’ll just have to work a little harder!)

Recommended lenses

2. A telephoto zoom lens

telephoto lens for portrait photography

After you have a standard zoom lens, the next thing to consider is a zoom telephoto, such as an 70-200mm f/2.8.

Telephoto zooms are perfect for separating the subject from the background and creating stunning bokeh – in fact, I used a 70-200mm lens to capture this shot:

portrait image of three kids

Notice how the blurred background seems to make the subjects pop off? That’s thanks to a long focal length and a relatively wide aperture.

Telephoto zooms work well for taking headshots because they let you take the picture without getting too close. This reduces the possibility of distortion. You can also use it to take creative portraits. Shoot through interesting leaves or flower.

Recommended lenses include Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 II, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 III, Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8.)

Wide-aperture zooms are better than lenses with a narrow aperture. Unfortunately, wide aperture telephoto lenses can be even worse than narrow aperture telephotos. More information about the productThese lenses are usually more expensive than their wide angle counterparts, but you can find cheaper alternatives. 70-200mm f/4 lensesYou can find older versions on the used-market.

You can also opt for a telephoto lens kit. 55-200mm f/4-5.6. Your optical quality will take a hit, but portraits often look good when a little bit soft, so that shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.

3. At least one fast prime

portrait photography gear cameras with prime lenses

Fast prime lenses have a single focal range, such as 85mm or 50mm. You can also read about how to get in touch with us. They offer an incredibly wide aperture such as f/1.8, or even f/1.2.

Fast primes are usually cheap (you can grab them for a bargain). 85mm f/1.8They are also less flexible than zooms, which is why I recommend you carry the two lens types mentioned above – but primes have their place. They’re less flexible than zooms, of course, which is why I do recommend you carry the two lens types mentioned above – but primes certainly have their place.

When starting out, you don’t need to go crazy on the prime lenses. A 85mm lens will work for both full-body and half-body photos, as well as headshots. Feel free to go for the f/1.8 version, as they offer beautiful background blur, plus you can easily handhold in low light (but if you’re very serious about your portraiture shooting and you require top-notch bokeh and/or incredible low-light prowess, consider the f/1.4 or f/1.2 versions, as well).

You can also find out more about the A-Team here. 50mm f/1.8 is another, cheaper option, and the wider focal length helps when shooting in enclosed spaces (e.g., a small studio), so it’s worth considering, too.

You might be wondering about:

When should I use my primes and when should I use zooms? When should I use my zooms and when should I use primes?

For fast-paced shootings (e.g. Family sessionYour zooms will keep you moving and give you more compositional flexibility. But if you’re doing a slower session, start with your standard zoom, then feel free to swap it out for your prime once you have a few nice shots!

4. A tripod

tripod for portraits

If you photograph subjects in a studio – especially with strobes – a tripod may not be strictly necessary, as you’ll have complete control over the lighting and can boost the power as required. It’s still useful to have, though, as you can use it to hold your camera while you adjust lights, add props, and so on.

If you are taking portraits in low-light conditions, a tripod will be very helpful. You can avoid any camera movement.

For studio portraits, you don’t need to invest in a sturdy-yet-portable tripod. As long as your tripod is stable, even if it’s super heavy, it’ll do the job. If you’re an outdoor portrait shooter, however, you’ll want to get a tripod that can hold your entire rig The following are some examples of how to get started: Transportable from one place to another. I highly recommend a carbon fiber model, and while such tripods are more expensive, they’ll save you a lot of pain and frustration down the line. One of the best options is the Peak Design Travel Tripod. It is a very popular tripod that we regularly include in this guide. Guide to Photography Gifts.

artistic portrait woman lying with hat

5. Artificial light sources

portrait photography studio

You can ignore this section if you are using natural light to capture portraits. However, I encourage all portrait photographers to learn to use artificial light; it’s a real game-changer and will make you a far more flexible shooter.

Thanks to artificial lighting, you can photograph at any time of the day under any lighting conditions, and you won’t be dependent on sunlight, the season, or the weather.

One piece of advice is: Don’t use your on-camera flash. To get started, buy an off-camera speedlight (i.e. a flash). If you want to get serious about it, you might consider purchasing additional speedlights, light stands, or even studio strobes.

Will artificial lighting reduce the portability of your portrait photography kit? It’s possible, but you can create an easily portable lighting set-up with a couple of light stands and speedlights. Bear in mind that you don’t need to use artificial lighting all the time; sometimes, you can shoot outside in good light, or you can work with a mixture of artificial and natural light.

I took all these photos in the studio, using carefully placed artificial lighting.

three child portraits

6. Modifiers for your lights

octabox light modifier

If you do decide to go the artificial lighting route, then it’s absolutely It is important to note that the following are key words: You can pair your studio strobes or speedlights with modifiers.

What are modifiers? They help Direct The light and the change of the Quality. Most portrait photographers use a modifier to soften their bare strobes. SoftboxesIt will be useful. Some modifiers such as SnootsSome objects, like umbrellas, focus the light while others will scatter it in all directions.

Beauty dishes are a good option for portraits that focus on fashion. And I highly recommend you look into different modifier options before buying – there are stripboxes, octaboxes, snoots, scrims, and so much more.

That said, if you’re struggling to decide what modifier to get, I’d suggest a simple softbox of decent size. They’re pretty versatile, plus they’ll get you that nice, diffused, window-lit look. Over time, you can accumulate a set of modifiers for different occasions (and fortunately, modifiers are quite cheap, so you don’t need to worry about breaking the bank).

woman portrait

7. A 5-in-1 reflector

You can use either natural or artificial light. ReflectorsThis is a must Portrait photography equipment is essential.

Reflectors can be used to adjust the light in your portraits. The perfect way to improve your life?. For instance, you can reflect light under your subject’s chin to get rid of dark shadows. Reflect backlit sun to create a beautiful effect.

And because 5-in-1 reflectors come with several different colors, you can capture creative effects – such as a golden portrait at sunset, a silvery portrait around midday, and so on.

Reflectors are so small and portable that you can carry them anywhere. And if you’re a studio photographer, you’ll appreciate a reflector, too, as you can place it opposite your light sources to soften any shadows.

(Pro tip: Studio photographers, if you have space, it’s a good idea to have one large reflector propped up on a stand in your studio – here, lockable caster wheels come in handy!)

Final words on essential portrait photography gear

Now that you’ve finished this article, you’re ready to compile your portrait photography kit – and take some stunning shots of your own.

Don’t skimp on lenses, and don’t skimp on portrait accessories, either. Of course, you don’t need to get The following are some of the most effective ways to improve your own personal effectiveness. It is not necessary to purchase all of these items right away, but you should keep them in mind.

Here’s your turn:

What portrait photography equipment are you planning to purchase? Do you own any additional equipment you think is essential? Comment below and let us know what you think!

  • GENERAL

  • PREPARE YOURSELF

  • Settings

  • LIGHTING

  • Posing

  • COMPOSITION

  • GEAR

  • ADVANCED GUIDES

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