My two favorite lenses for family sessions
I love family sessions. Like a lot.
There's something about being able to capture the love and joy of a family that just melts my heart. If you've ever had a session with me, you know I like to have FUN. We run, we jump, we play and you get to be you. Kids throw tantrums, pout, cry and barely pay me any attention. And that's the way I like it. I want to capture the real and the raw. The laugh and giggles, but also the pouts and sass. All of these things make up your family and they are worth remembering!
When it comes to an outdoor family session, I basically stick to two lenses throughout the entirety of my session - my Sigma Art 35mm and my Canon 135L. (For my in-home lifestyle and newborn sessions, I use my Sigma Art 24mm, which you can read all about here in this post!).
Sigma Art 35mm
I always start my session with the Sigma Art 35mm. This lens is probably on my camera more than any other lens and it's a "classic" everyday lens. I like starting with the 35mm because it allows me enough room to move around my families and chase those kiddos here and there. It's wide enough where you don't feel like I'm standing on top of your subject and it lets me get some good angles.
Since this is a wider-angle lens, it doesn't have much compression even when shot wide open at 1.4 (and I usually keep my aperture around 2.0-2.8 anyway depending on the number of family members in my session. My sessions start about an hour + a half before sunset, so the light at the beginning of the session is still pretty high above the tree line, so I'm really not going to be getting lots of bokeh and light leaks anyway. Starting with this lens means I can switch over to my 135mm as the light turns magical.
Canon EF 135mm
This lens is purely magical and I typically always pull this baby out towards the end of the session. By this time, I have (for the most part) captured some good moments of the families together and most kids are done having their picture taken anyways and are ready to roam. By switching to the 135mm, I can stand WAY far back and just let the kids be themselves. The light is also usually magical towards the end of the session and the 135 gives such beautiful compression with gorgeous bokeh. This lens also pretty tack sharp even wide open at 2.0. The only negative to this lens is it does give off a good bit of haze if you are shooting directly into the sunlight. I always try to filter my subjects with trees or something along that line to reduce the haze. The 135mm is crazy sharp wide open (sharper than any of my Sigmas, I think) and the compression just can't be beat.
What about you? What's your go-to lens for outdoor sessions? Share your favorite below!
For lifestyle family session inquiries, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via my contact page.