A few years ago, I came across the term ‘gear lust.’ Suddenly all those feelings of wanting, dreaming, and lusting over the latest and greatest lens and cameras that I would see in glossy magazines and catalogs were categorized as a known condition. How could I choose the right lens to use and buy for my photography when there were so many options out there?

Did I really need to choose? Couldn’t I just buy everything and make myself a happy camper?

Pretty soon, I came crashing down to earth and realized that buying every single lens out there was not practical and near impossible given my finances and photography budget.

So, I learned fairly quickly how to understand my photographic needs and choose a lens that best fits that need – from a usability, functionality and budget perspective.

Photo by the framestreet on

Here are some tips on how you can choose the right lens that works for you, based on your photography style, needs, and budget. Remember, these are all very individualistic, so make sure you are honest when answering these questions.

1. Understand your photography style

When we are starting out as photographers, there is a need to master everything. And rightfully so.

The early stages of learning any art form is one of exploration, and we should try everything out there.

When I first started, I was exploring different genres and editing styles. I explored moody to black and white, to light and airy, and everything in between.

I soon found myself gravitating towards a light bright airy style. This meant photographing wide open and using a lot of natural light in my photos. I realized that my lens needed to be fast to focus and let me photograph wide open at apertures of around f/1.2 through f/2.

These needs saw me gravitating towards prime lenses. I found that they worked well for me in post-processing for the style that I wanted to focus on too.

So I invested in the Canon 50mm f/1.2 L and a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L. Now, 9 years later, I still have both of these lenses and use them consistently.

Even though my genre and specialization have changed slightly, my photography style has remained fairly consistent. So these lenses have served me well.

DPS Choosing The Right Lens Karthika Gupta
Taken with my beloved 50mm f/1.2

So, take the time to understand what photography style works for you and then try out different lenses. Do you prefer working with zoom lens, or are primes more your style?

You will find that choosing the right lens for your style of photography becomes much easier when you take the time to understand what your photography style is rather than buying something and then adjusting your style to match the gear you have.

DPS Choosing The Right Lens 24-70mm Karthika Gupta
My 24-70mm f/2.8 lives on my camera 80% of the time. This is the lens I choose in a jiffy because I know it gives me what I am looking for.

2. Understand your photography needs

When I first started photography, I considered myself a family and lifestyle photographer. Soon I added newborn and weddings into the mix.

I quickly realized that while I love kids, I just could not handle newborn photos. Newborn shoots take a lot of time and a lot of patience, waiting on babies to be cooperative.

However, I found my sweet spot with weddings and lifestyle photos.

As I tried out different lenses for this type of work, I quickly realized that speed and wide angles were important for family photos and weddings. With weddings, I often found myself in the back of the room, taking photos of the couple at the altar or interacting with family and loved ones. As I did not want to intrude on these special moments, I found that a lens with a good zoom was pertinent.

With this realization, I invested in the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 because this lens had everything I was looking for – the zoom and speed.

DPS Choosing The Right Lens Karthika Gupta
Taken with the 70-200mm f/2.8 shot – I will love this lens till the day I die!
DPS Choosing The Right Lens 70-200mm Karthika Gupta
Choosing the right lens sometimes is like choosing your favorite child! You cannot voice it publicly but you know which one is the favorite!

I also found myself renting the Canon 35mm f/1.4 for larger weddings to take wide-angle photos. My second shooter would use this lens to get a different angle as we photographed side-by-side.

So, take the time to understand your photography needs. Do you want to focus on close-up portraits or do you want wide-angle photos of architecture? Perhaps you want to experiment with street photography? Do you want to do more macro or wildlife photos?

Choosing the right lens will become a breeze when you really narrow down what your photography needs are.

DPS Choosing The Right Lens Karthika Gupta

3. Acknowledge your budget

If you have to pick only one lens because of your budget, understand that it is perfectly okay, and even the top photographers do that occasionally. The amount of gear you own does not equate to skill and proficiency.

For my very first photoshoot, I rented a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens and used that with my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8. I had no idea what I was doing other than the fact that I had read that the nifty-fifty was the best thing since sliced bread!

I hated that lens and couldn’t wait to return it. Fast forward a few years, and once I had the understanding and the budget, I invested in the L version of the 50mm. It is now my favorite lens for portraits of any kind. The bokeh from this lens is pure magic!

DPS Choosing The Right Lens Canon 24-70 Karthika Gupta
My 24-70mm f/2.8 is almost 9 years old. It has been readjusted multiple times by Canon Professional Services, but I will never get rid of it. It delivers day-in and day-out!

You can get creative with what you have.

Change up your angle. Change up the focal length by moving closer or backing out.

No matter what the limitations, for the most part, you can make it work.

4. Find the happy match between lens and photographer

This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? With so many choices out there, what lens should you choose, and when? Investing in camera gear should always be a healthy balance between need, wants, and budget. The last thing you want is a closet full of gear that you never use.

Rent or borrow a lens that interests you so you can test it out for yourself first before outlaying a big amount of money on something that may not suit your needs.

An example of this is the Sigma 135mm f1.8 I was interested in buying. It is an incredible lens. I was so tempted to buy it having heard about its awesomeness from all my photographer friends. However, when I had a chance to test it out, I realized that I get a lot of the same results from my 70-200mm f2.8 for the way I was using it. So it would have been an unnecessary addition to my gear.

DPS Choosing The Right Lens Sigma 135mm Karthika Gupta

Selling off your unwanted gear is always an option, but it’s better to get it right to start with. Remember, needs and styles constantly change, and that is fairly common among photographers. That way, if you find yourself needing the same lens down the road, you can always keep using what you have or upgrade to a newer version.

As I slowly move away from weddings and more towards travel and culture, my needs have changed. I want to travel light and wanted the most bang for the gear I lug halfway around the world. Hence, I choose lenses that fit that need.

I’ve been lucky, because the lenses I chose for my initial needs, still suit my new needs. My go-to lenses are the 24-70mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.2 and 70-200mm f/2.8. I find that this combination works the best for travel portraits, wide-angle landscapes as well as the occasional wildlife photos.

Good gear is essential for a good photographer, but expensive gear does not make a good photographer.

If you only have a kit lens and cannot afford anything else, that’s perfectly okay. Master your craft with what you have, and when the time is right, choose the right lens based on what you need and what you can afford, not on what is the latest/coolest gadget on the market.

The post 4 Tips to Choose the Right Lens for your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

Thanks to Digital Photography School and Karthika Gupta for the use of this article.

Other photos showing the good use of lenses:

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on
A beautiful example of a wide angle lens

Photo by Pixabay on
A beautiful example of what a good telephoto lens could do.

Photo by Gilberto Olimpio on
A great example of a macro lens



Photos of the Week: 2/6/2019: Here are the top 10 award winning photos in almost every category for 2019. Check these out:
01. Royal History Museum WPOTY
(Image credit: Stefan Christmann)The Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year is one of our favorite competitions of the year. Consistently packed with incredible wildlife shots, it’s always a pleasure to report on this prestigious contest. 

02. Wex Photographer of the Year
Wex Photographer of the Year (Image credit: Andi Campbell)The Wex Photographer of the Year competition is packed full of amazing photos from all genres of photography. Our favorite part of this competition is that its free to enter and you can do so throughout the year!

03. SINWP Bird Photographer of the Year
Bird Photographer of the Year 2019 – Caron Steele (Image credit: Caron Steele/ Bird Photographer of the Year)The Society of the International Nature and Wildlife Photographers Bird Photographer of the Year 2019 competition has a variety of beautifully captured bird photos that are well worth a gander…
“With over 2,000 entries, the judges saw everything from bald eagles to peacocks – and everything in between. However, there could only be one winner. The wildlife photographer to scoop the top prize was Thomas Vijayan from Ontario, Canada. His image of a family of emperor penguins helped him win a collection of prizes worth over £1,145. 

04. Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year
Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year  (Image credit: Jianhui Liao)Advertisement

The Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2019 competition celebrates the tasty world of food photography. From a giant cauldron of noodles to colorful bowls of produce, there’s plenty to salivate over here.
“Chinese photographer Jianhui Liao has won the overall title of Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2019 in the annual competition to find the best pictures around the globe of food, wine, farming and produce.

05. Digital Camera Photographer of the Year
Digital Camera Photographer of the Year –  Marco Tagliarino  (Image credit: Digital Camera Photographer of the Year/ Marco Tagliarino)

The Digital Camera Photographer of the Year was announced at The Photography Show in March 2019. With categories such as Urban landscape, Wildlife, Street Seen, Abstract and Travel, there’s plenty of photographic talent to be seen.

06. World Press Photo of the Year
World Press Photo of the Year 2019 by John Moore (Image credit: John Moore / Getty Images)Advertisement

The World Press Photo of the Year Awards celebrates press photographers who have captured socially significant photos. John Moore won this year’s competition for his highly emotive photo.
“A photograph of a crying child has been announced as the overall winner of the World Press Photo of the Year awards. The winning photographer John Moore, who works for the Getty photo agency, received his award from Prince Constantijn of The Netherlands at a ceremony in Amsterdam last night.
The American pro’s winning picture graphically depicts the moment that Honduran toddler her mother, Sandra Sanchez, are taken into custody by US border officials in McAllen, Texas, USA.”

07. Close-Up Photographer of the Year
Close-Up Photographer of the Year 2019 – Emanuele Biggi (Image credit: Emanuele Biggi/CUPOTY 01)
The inaugural Close-up Photographer of the Year competition gave us lots of macro and close-up photos to enjoy, from caterpillars to dandelion seeds.
“An amazing image of a Peringuey’s adder peeping out of the sand in southern Africa’s Namib Desert is the winner of the first-ever Close-up Photographer of the Year competition.
The stunning shot was taken by Italian television presenter Emanuele Biggi, who followed the snake’s tracks in the sand before finding it under a shrub. 

08. Red Bull Illume Image Quest
Taking home the grand title of Overall Winner this year is Ben Thouard with his mind-bending underwater image of Ace Buchan surfing in Tahiti. His winning image received an outstanding number of votes by the judging panel, which consisted of 50 outstanding photo editors and digital experts.
Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019 Overall Winner: Ben Thouard (Image credit: Red Bull Illume)

09. International Garden Photographer of the Year
International Garden Photographer of the Year is Jill Welham  (Image credit: IGPOTY/Jill Welham)The winner of the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition is a blast from the past, using the cyanotype photographic print process. 

10. International Landscape Photographer of the Year
International Landscape Photographer of the Year (Image credit: Adam Gibbs)
Adam Gibbs from Canada is this year’s winner, whose folio submission (of at least 4 images) was selected from nearly 3000 entries from 863 photographers.
What makes a great landscape photographer? Persistence? Experience? Luck? Passion? Adam’s portfolio shows a diversity of views, an understanding of light and the expert use of framing and composition. 
With sandy aerials to icy mountain locations, the judges liked that Adam’s portfolio demonstrated a range of topics.”

This just in:

76-year-old scoops Photographer of the Year for second time with stunning image:

By Chris George 6 days ago

Dr Fong Chann Onn wins The Societies main photo prize for second year in a row with this shot of a Chinese family

(Image credit: Dr Fong Chan Onn)
76-year-old Malaysian photographer Dr Fong Chan Onn has won The Societies Photographer of the Year award for the second year in a row. The image was chosen for the 2019 title from some 11,320 images that were submitted to The Societies of Photographers’ monthly competitions
The image was shot on a trip to Yuanyang in China last year. The intimate image of the family was shot in a rice growing community close to the Vietnam border. The judges commented that you can almost smell the smoke in the room, and that it is a travel image that will stand the test of time.

“I am greatly humbled to have won the trust of the judges.”, says Dr Fong. “I have learnt a great deal from the judges decisions. What makes a good photo and what transforms it in to a great photo. This award will further inspire me to work even harder”. 

Wedding Photography: What You Need to Capture

As a keen photographer there may come a time where you’re asked to shoot a friend or family member’s wedding. For some people, the idea would fill them with dread and it would be too big a responsibility to take on. For others, it’s an exciting opportunity to use your skills to capture one of the happiest days of their lives, and a real honour to be asked. I photographed my first wedding 10 summers ago, and I vividly remember the nerves and anxiety the night before as I went through my rookie shot list. Although I’ve now been entrusted with over a hundred weddings in the past few years I do still have some nerves before the day gets going; the responsibility never shrinks, but with experience your ability to make a success of the day increases. Having a list to refer to definitely helped guide me through my first few weddings, and so I’ve put together my take on what you should be looking to capture from a wedding day.

Within a wedding, there are hundreds of different photographs to be captured. From telling the story of the day through the different events, places and moments, the details including the dress and decor, the family groups, portraits of the bride and groom, and countless candid opportunities of love, laughter and life. And with so much to photograph, having a shot list can really help ensure you don’t miss any key moments that document the day. Approaching the list of shots all at once can be overwhelming, so I find breaking it down into different chapters of the day makes it more manageable. It all begins with the bridal preparations…

The Morning Preparations

Look for interesting compositions during the hair and makeup

Lots of wedding photography begins with shots of the bride and her bridesmaids getting ready. It can last for a few hours and is a great opportunity to create some great candid images of the bride and her friends as they relax before the excitement of the ceremony. Personally I like to try and capture the events as they happen with minimal interference, and I’m always looking for spaces with good light, interesting angles and ways to compose the people in the room creatively. There’s also a selection of details to capture such as the dresses, shoes, jewellery, flowers, and good locations should be sought to photograph these items. While capturing the morning preparations candidly look out for the key moments of emotion, whether it is the father of the bride seeing her for the first time that day, the sharing of gifts and personal letters or any pre-wedding nerves. With dozens of important moments to capture from the morning alone, here are some of the key images that should be on your shot list…

Venue location – set the scene with an exterior shot

Bridal party having their hair and makeup done

Details – dresses, shoes, flowers etc

Final bridal preparations – buttoning the dress etc

Bridal party portraits

Father of the bride seeing his daughter

Heading to the wedding venue – descending the stairs/wedding car

The finishing touches to the hair and make up

The buttoning of the dress is one of the final moments before a bride is ready

Every bride wants a photo of her wedding dress

Don’t forget details like the shoes, and look out for interesting locations or light

Seek out compositions that include everyone in the story

Make sure you photograph the bridal bouquet

And if there’s time a portrait of the bride before the ceremony

The Wedding Ceremony

This is the main event of the day and it is often over very quickly! Once the ceremony is under way you may be restricted on where you can go and what you can photograph, so make sure you know this in advance so you can plan effectively. As different cultures and religions celebrate marriages in their own way, you’ll need to tailor your own shot list to reflect the events of the specific ceremony. But for a traditional Western wedding, these are some of the key photographs you need to capture…

Venue location – interior and exteriors

Venue details – personal touches and decorations

Groom & groomsmen portraits

Wedding rings

Guests arriving and mingling

Bridal party arrival

Bride’s entrance and seeing groom for the first time that day

Ceremony, vows & first kiss

Signing the register

Exiting the ceremony venue

Candid shots of wedding party


Leaving the venue

Be ready to capture the bride arriving at the ceremony venue

Look out for candid shots of the wedding guests

Be in position to capture the bride walking up the aisle

You’ll need to be more discreet during the vows

The first few moments right after the first kiss are bursting with emotion

There’s usually an opportunity created to photograph the signing of the register

After the ceremony be prepared for the confetti

The Drinks Reception

Immediately after most wedding ceremonies the bride and groom and their guests relax with a drinks reception. It’s a time for everyone to congratulate the newlyweds, catch up with family and friends and for guests to mingle. While most people are deep in conversation with a glass of champagne in hand, it can be a hectic time for the photographer! With everyone chatting there’s plenty of scope for great candid shots of the guests enjoying the day, celebrating with the bride and groom and exploring the venue.

During this time you’ll also need to capture any formal group photographs of family and friends as selected by the bride and groom, a photograph of the entire wedding party, and not forgetting a portrait session with the bride and groom themselves. For couple portraits it’s a good idea to plan out a route around the venue taking in a number of pre-selected photo locations. This all takes time, so you need to be working effectively and efficiently to stay on schedule: the bride and groom will be relying on you.

The drinks reception is also a good time to capture the details of where the wedding party will be seated for dinner. This can include table plans, flowers, room decorations and seating details, the wedding cake, any individual details or favours. Once the drinks reception is over the guests will have taken their seats and the opportunity to photograph the details and personal touches as chosen by the bride and groom will be gone! To help you through the busy drinks reception, here’s some of the shots I would be looking to capture…

Reception location, wide shots setting the scene

Candid shots of guests chatting and relaxing

Any games, music or entertainment

Guests congratulating the couple and posing for photos

Formal group photographs of family and friends, this could be a dozen or more different group shots

A group photograph of the entire wedding party, preferably taken from a high vantage point

Portraits of the bride and groom around the venue

Dinner details – table decorations, seating plan, flowers, cake etc

The drinks reception is a great opportunity for plenty of candid shots

Spend some time photographing the guests enjoying the day

You’ll need to set aside some time to photograph the key groups of the wedding party

And find some height to get a shot of everyone

Look out for entertainment or garden games

Take the bride and groom away from their guests for some portraits

Seek out locations and backdrops that make for a good image

Work to keep the bride and groom relaxed for better pictures

Get creative with your portraits by making use of the veil

And make time during the drinks reception to photograph the table details

Dinner and Speeches

Most weddings usually sit down to dinner after the drinks reception, and at some point during the meal the speeches are likely to occur. It’s important to capture a few atmospheric room shots, but during the meal itself there’s usually fewer photos to be taken; after all, nobody is keen on pics of people eating. This is a good opportunity for the photographer to take a short break, have some food or drink, review the shots already captured and prepare for the events to come. If you do take a break, make sure you’re not too far away and know precisely when the speeches are happening or if any surprises are planned!

Guests taking seats

Bride and groom entering the room to applause

Room atmosphere and dinner service

The speeches

Guests emotional reactions to the speeches

After dinner atmosphere and events

Capture the moment the bride and groom enter the room for dinner

Capture the atmosphere before the speeches begin

Be primed to capture the speeches

And don’t forget to photograph the reactions too

Shoot to include the entire top table

The Evening Party

At some point after the dinner the evening turns towards the party, and it all kicks off with the cutting of the cake and the first dance. Check if any special events are planned, such as a tightly choreographed routine, confetti cannons, extra entertainment, live music games, sparklers or fireworks, and plan how you can capture these moments. As the day draws to a close, seek out a particular shot that you can use as a closer to the wedding album. It could be a sparkler send-off, a backlit low light portrait of the bride and groom or a long exposure of the venue under the stars, and this will help you sign off your photos of the wedding in style. For the evening party, here are some of the main events to capture…

The cutting of the wedding cake

The first dance

The bride dancing with the father of the bride

Guests dancing

Evening entertainment

Band and live music

Evening guest arrival

Evening portrait session of bride and groom

A ‘closer’ shot to finish the story of the day

The evening often begins with the cutting of the cake

Followed by the first dance

You can shoot the first dance creatively with off camera flash

Make sure you capture plenty of dance floor action

And perhaps shoot a night time portrait of the bride and groom to finish off the photos

It’s true that every wedding is different and it’s not always possible to capture everything on your shot list. As a wedding photographer it’s important to be prepared and anticipate the key events, and also reacting to capture all the unpredictable little moments of the day that make it truly unique and memorable celebration. You’ll find that some of the best shots you capture weren’t on your shot list as they can’t be planned for, but referring to a list as a guide will help steer you through your early days as a wedding photographer.

I am sure that if you are a wedding photographer, you may have some added ideas to add to this list. If you would like to share those ideas with everyone, please use the comment section below to do so, please!

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A sincere thanks to Digitalrev for producing such a great article and allowing this to be shared.