Traditional portrait lenses are around 100mm – approximately 70mm focal length on most APS-C DSLRs. A standard 50mm lens is also an excellent choice as it becomes 75mm on DSLRS. Manufacturers often make a fast standard 50mm lens – with wide maximum apertures ideal for portraiture – at reasonable prices.
A bonus is that the lens is compact and easier to carry around. It will involve the photographer moving around more than with a zoom lens but the results will be very sharp and accurate.
A good zoom lens can, however, be very useful, as it will help you fill the frame. Lenses with longer focal lengths produce a shallower depth of field and will therefore blur the background of your image to a greater degree.
Setting the self-timer and running into position only for your flailing arm to be covering a relative’s face is not only frustrating but also time wasting.
A remote release means you can forgo the usual mad scramble back and also take a few shots from your position before checking. A wireless release is affordable too, with prices starting at around £15.
A dedicated flash gun is a purchase most photographers will make soon after buying their camera. With outdoor photography the light will be constantly changing and you will need to adapt to the circumstances.
A separate flash gun gives you more power than the onboard flash and also doesn’t drain the camera’s battery. They can range from affordable, such as Nikon’s entry level SB-400, to Nikon’s top-of-the-range professional SB-800, with the Nikon SB-600 in between.
A reflector is a cheap way of using available light to its full potential and they come in a variety of colours depending on the result you need. Typically it will have two different finishes – one on either side – so you have the added option of altering the light bounced from it.
Lastolite is one of the leading brands in the market and makes reflectors ranging from 30cm up to a giant 1.8m by 1.2m. They are flexible and portable and come in a wide range of finishes.
Another useful item is a small stepladder, as being able to shoot from high angles is a real benefit at times.
Spare memory cards are one thing you shouldn’t be without as there are few things more irritating than to find that you have run out of room on your card. It will also eradicate the need to delete images from the card you are working with while you are shooting.