We're Erica + Jon, professional photographers, Mr + Mrs and Mom + Dad. We like to share insights into our industry, behind the scenes and stories about our life and chips + salsa obsession.
One of the things we were so convinced about when we started in photography was that the gear was what made the photographer. Boy, we couldn’t have been much more wrong! And it’s silly looking back that we ever thought that. If you don’t know, Jon is a musician – like, a pretty darn good one! He always tells a story about walking into a guitar store with a guitar player he really looked up to. All the other people in the store were grabbing the very BEST guitars off the top rack and plugging them into the most high end amps and effects pedals. But Jon’s friend grabbed a cheap beginner guitar, plugged it into an equally low-end amplifier, and played so well that slowly but surely all the other players in the shop hung the guitars back on the wall. Your gear isn’t what makes you good at what you do. Your proficiency at your craft and your artistic abilities do. That said, having the right gear, and in this case, the right lens, for the goals you have is very important! So today, we’re breaking down our Top 4 Lenses for Brand Photographers…and why!
So…we should be upfront with you here. Jon hates shooting with prime lenses. He’s slowly but surely coming around to them, but Erica…this is her happy place!! If Erica could only have ONE lens in her toolkit, it’s safe to say the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L would be her top choice. The 50mm is a great all around lens for shooting a large variety of work, but we find it to be our go to tool specifically for portraits and working with personal brands.
Personal brand photography often revolves around lifestyle photos, and the 50mm’s low aperture of f/1.2 allows us to bring in SO much beautiful natural light and achieve the creamy, soft blur (bokeh) in the background of the images.
The 50mm also feels like it shoots a more sharp, in focus image, so when we have a specific photo that needs to be absolutely, 100% tack-sharp, the 50mm comes out of the case! Prime lenses in general will shoot more sharp frames, so that’s helpful to keep in mind when the need arises!
Another lens that frequents our personal brand and lifestyle brand photoshoots is the versatile Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II zoom lens! This thing is an absolute workhorse! One of the biggest advantages to this lens for personal brands is the ability to shoot and recompose and reframe shots quickly without much movement. We can alternate between pulled back vertical shots, cropped in close-ups, and wide horizontals all from one spot. It helps make us faster and more agile when we need to move quickly!
The second part of that zoom lens advantage is being able to pull so far back. The 24-70 allows you to really open up a wide shot, but without the distortion that dropping to something like a 16mm can bring. When we need a nice, wide shot, the 24-70mm shows up as our hero lens!
If the 50mm is Erica’s favorite lens, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II is most likely Jon’s! We’re not really sure if it’s because it is big, beefy, and built like a tank, or if he really just likes the lens, but it’s a regular in our work flow! Speaking of being built like a tank…it really is heavy, so we recommend using a tripod, monopod, or one of these helpful hand straps when using this lens!
The biggest reason for Jon’s love of the 70-200 is the background compression you are able to achieve with this lens! Background compression is the flattening of the perspective of space in an image. Essentially, using the 70-200, you’re able to make the focus of an image less on the distance of your subject from the background, and more on the subject itself, as the perspective of distance becomes less and less meaningful as you zoom further.
We’ll also occasionally use the 70-200 in studio for product shots. We like to utilize this lens when shooting on seamless backdrops combining both the effectiveness of the lens compression between our product and the seamless backdrop and also the ability to recompose as needed pretty easily with the zoom capabilities.
Speaking of product shoots, when it comes to tack sharp product images, especially for smaller products, there is no other lens we reach for than our Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro! In full transparency, this lens took us a little getting used to when we first picked it up years ago. Shooting a macro lens feels a little weird at first, but once you realize it’s capabilities, you’re just as sold as we are!!
On occasion, we’ll use this lens for pulled back product shots as well without leaning into it’s macro photography capabilities. We find it creates a very crisp, tack sharp product image for us when shooting products that have important details, such as stitching, zippers, clasps, etc.
So there you have it, friend! Our Top 4 Lenses for Brand Photographers…and why! We hope our run down has been helpful for you! Oh and by the way, if you’re interested to know about all the gear we carry, we’ve got a helpful guide put together for you, complete with links! Grab your copy of Our Gear List!