During my time as a photographer there have been certain questions that have been asked by a large amount of people. This is going to be my take on some of those questions. The first question is what is the best lens for portraits?
The best lens for portraiture; is the lens that is attached to your camera. I am still using the kit lens that came with my camera. Taking a good portrait is all about how you use the gear you not what gear you are using. Because I focus on lighting, posing, and the story or emotion I am trying to convey with the image; I get better images. If you are focused on what get the image was taken with you are missing the point. All the experts agree that art should invoke an emotion when viewed yet I have meet several people who call themselves photographers that are more concerned with the gear they have over the quality and story of their images.
The next question is about lighting; are small speedlights better then studio lighting and what modifiers should I use? The answer to this question is simple; the best lighting equipment for you is the lighting equipment you can afford. The best light modifiers are the modifiers you can afford. The best advice on lighting equipment is to get the gear you can afford and then learn and master the light. I use speedlights with shoot through umbrellas and sometimes gels on the speedlights.
I use speedlights because they are portable, easy to set up, and they can be used both indoor and outdoor. I use a shoot through umbrella because after watching Scott Robert Lim on CreativeLive I have learned just how much can be done with a small flash and a shoot through umbrella. Scott Robert Lim said that a compact flash is “like having a sunset in your pocket.”
To turn a picture into a work of art you don’t need the latest gear; you need a vision, your own style, and whole lot of practice. Percy W. Harris once said that “Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase.” I could not agree more, I once thought that I needed more gear to get better photos but I have learned that if I don’t know how to use the equipment I have just changing the gear is not going to help. Learn to use the gear you have, education yourself about photography; things like lighting, posing, composition. My photography became so much better when I focused on and learned how to maximize the gear I have.