I get a lot of “What lens should I buy?” questions from beginner photographers, and to be honest, it’s challenging to answer with one sentence, or even a few. Each arena of photography has a few lenses that are built for the task at hand, and then a handful of compromises.

If you have any ambition to get paid to take pictures, a great place to start is by photographing people. Start simple. Start with headshots. They are a lot easier to shoot than say a family of five with a sassy 2-year-old.

Headshots with a 18-55mm f/5.6 lens wont sell. They look similar to a cell phone picture. What you need is a medium range telephoto lens with a wide aperture. For example:


Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens

Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Lens


Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S Lens

Nikon 50mm f/1.8G AF-S Lens

Nikon 85mm f/1.8G AF-S Lens

All of these lenses do a fantastic job of taking an ugly background, and turning it into a milky-smooth canvas. I often call them beauty lenses, because they help transform ordinary scenes into elegant ones. Photographing a bride in a hotel room, I primarily use my Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 to blur un-wanted clutter.

So, if your current lens lineup is needing another addition, you might want to consider a medium-range fast telephoto. It will help separate your subjects from the background, and also separate your photos from others.

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