Portrait Photography has the unparalleled ability to capture the essence and personality of a subject.

There's nothing quite like the feeling of capturing those genuine, intimate moments that make a portrait truly come alive. Here's a quick dive into the world of lenses, along with an anything-but-definitive list of the best options for creating stunning portraits that tell a story.

Prime Lenses:

  • 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4: Often dubbed as the "nifty fifty," a 50mm lens is a staple in many photographers' kits. With a wide aperture, such as f/1.8 or f/1.4, these lenses excel in producing creamy bokeh and achieving that coveted shallow depth of field. They are versatile, affordable, and great for both full-frame and crop sensor cameras.
  • 85mm f/1.8 or f/1.4: Renowned for its flattering perspective and compression, an 85mm lens is a favorite among portrait photographers. With its longer focal length, it allows for beautiful subject isolation and background separation, making it ideal for headshots, fashion, and studio portraits.

Zoom Lenses:

  • 24-70mm f/2.8: A workhorse lens in many photographers' arsenals, the 24-70mm f/2.8 offers versatility and exceptional image quality. Its focal range covers wide-angle to short telephoto, making it suitable for various portrait scenarios, from environmental portraits to medium-close-up shots.

  • 70-200mm f/2.8: Embraced by professionals for its superb image quality and reach, the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is perfect for capturing intimate portraits from a distance. Its telephoto range allows photographers to compress the background, resulting in visually striking images with creamy bokeh.

Specialty Lenses:

  • 105mm or 135mm f/2.0 or f/1.8: These prime lenses offer a unique perspective and are prized for their flattering compression and stunning bokeh. They are particularly well-suited for portraiture, producing images with a natural look and exquisite detail.

  • Macro Lenses: While primarily designed for close-up photography, macro lenses can also excel in capturing compelling portraits with exceptional sharpness and detail. Their ability to focus closely on subjects makes them perfect for capturing intricate facial features and expressions.

Considerations When Choosing a Lens:

  • Aperture: Lenses with wide apertures (e.g., f/1.8 or f/1.4) allow for greater control over depth of field, enabling you to isolate your subject and create stunning bokeh.


  • Focal Length: Consider the focal length that best suits your style and shooting environment. Short telephoto lenses (e.g., 85mm) are popular for portraits due to their flattering perspective, while wider lenses (e.g., 35mm) can be great for environmental portraits.


  • Image Stabilization: If you often shoot in low light conditions or handheld, consider lenses with built-in image stabilization to minimize camera shake and ensure sharper images.


  • Budget: While quality lenses can be a significant investment, there are also excellent options available at more affordable price points. Assess your budget and prioritize lenses that offer the best balance of performance and affordability.

Four of the Best

1. **Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM Lens**: Ah, the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM lens – a true masterpiece in the world of portrait photography. With its wide aperture and creamy bokeh, this lens lets you capture your subject with remarkable clarity and depth. Whether you're shooting in natural light or setting up a studio portrait session, the RF 85mm f/1.2L delivers jaw-dropping results every time. Just like Greg Williams, this lens allows you to create images that feel cinematic and timeless.

2. **Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S Lens**: For all my Nikon shooters out there, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S lens is a must-have for portrait photography. Known for its superb sharpness and beautiful background blur, this lens is perfect for capturing those intimate moments with precision and elegance. Whether you're shooting weddings, engagements, or family portraits, the 85mm f/1.4G delivers stunning results that will make your subjects shine. Just like Greg Williams, this lens helps you tell stories through your portraits with unmatched clarity and depth.

3. **Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens**: Sony shooters, rejoice – the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM lens is here to take your portrait photography to new heights. Renowned for its outstanding sharpness and stunning bokeh, this lens allows you to capture every detail with breathtaking clarity. Whether you're shooting outdoor portraits or indoor studio sessions, the FE 85mm f/1.4 GM delivers exceptional results that will leave you in awe. Just like Greg Williams, this lens empowers you to create portraits that are both intimate and captivating, drawing viewers into the story behind each image.

4. **Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens**: Let's not forget about the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens – a versatile and reliable option for portrait photographers of all levels. With its wide aperture and razor-sharp focus, this lens lets you capture stunning portraits with stunning detail and clarity. Whether you're shooting solo portraits or group shots, the 50mm f/1.4 Art delivers consistent performance and exceptional image quality.

The best lens for portrait photography ultimately depends on your shooting style, preferences, and budget.

Whether you prefer the cinematic look of a telephoto lens or the versatility of a standard prime, there's a perfect option out there for you - so grab your camera, find your favorite lens, and go out and capture some unforgettable moments!