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Scott Kelby's Digital Photography Tips: What Not to Shoot with Your 50mm Lens

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Should you shoot a close-up head shot with a 50mm lens? Only if you don’t care about working for that client again, because they’re not going to be happy with the results. Scott Kelby explains that when it comes to shooting portraits of women, almost any longer lens would probably be a better choice.
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50mm 200mm

Don’t shoot portraits of women. Well, certainly not close-up portraits anyway, and for one simple reason—it’s just not flattering. When you shoot people with a 50mm lens up close, they generally look a bit distorted and that’s the last thing you want in a portrait. That’s why you see the pros shooting with longer lenses so often (I usually shoot with a 70–200mm lens out around the 150mm to 200mm end of the lens most of the time). These longer lengths create a compression that’s very flattering in portraits, so people just plain look better (and why wouldn’t you want your subjects to look better?). Now, can you shoot a full-length bridal portrait from the back of the room with a 50mm lens? Sure. Can you shoot group shots with a 50mm? Absolutely. Should you shoot a close-up head shot? Only if you don’t care about working for that client again, because they’re not going to be happy with the results. The 50mm is great for some instances, but when it comes to shooting portraits of women, almost any longer lens would probably be a better choice. By the way, I didn’t need to mention the whole “don’t shoot portraits of women with a fisheye lens,” did I? (Kidding. I hope.)

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