Capturing Beautiful Portraits:
The Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art
Words and Photos: SIGMA Ambassador Stefano Lombardo | @stefanolombardo
In the world of portrait photography, the choice of lens is so important. Each lens has its unique characteristics, rendering styles, and differences that affect the final photo. For me, the one lens that has stood head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to capturing beautiful portraits is the Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art. I bought this lens a few years ago and I knew right after shooting my first portrait session, this lens was capable of producing some amazing images. So much so, that I repurchased this exact lens when I switched over from Canon to Sony. The Sigma 35mm F1.4 has taken its place as my favourite lens for portrait photography and I’ll tell you why!
A Distinctive Perspective
For many photographers, the 50mm or 85mm focal length is considered the “best” for portrait photography, and yes these are two amazing focal lengths. However, with these focal lengths you also miss out on capturing the beautiful environment around your subject. For me, the 35mm focal length strikes the perfect balance between being wide enough to capture the environment and context of the subject, while also drawing the viewers attention to the portrait. It allows me to utilize the environment to frame my subject, it allows the subject to interact with their surroundings to make a portrait more dynamic, but also paints a bigger picture for the viewer. Just like an establishing shot in cinema, a wide shot taken at 35mm tells a bigger story; gives the portrait more context.
Connecting Through The Lens
One of the reasons why I enjoy shooting portraits is because I enjoy meeting new people and learning more about their story. Shooting with a wider lens like the Sigma 35mm F1.4, enables me to shoot closer to my subject and allows me to interact and converse with my subject, instead of being 20 feet away on a longer focal length lens. I prefer shooting with the Sigma 35mm because it gives my portraits a more true to life perspective, I also believe that shooting closer to my subject makes a shoot much less tense and more comfortable between my subject and I.
Depth of Field & Razor Sharp Focus
Naturally with wider lenses, the less compression you get and the less blurry the background can be, but the F1.4 aperture on this 35mm lens produces a beautiful, dreamlike bokeh that enhances the separation between the subject and environment, driving even more focus and attention to the subjects expressions and emotions. Naturally you would also expect a softer image at such a wide aperture, but the Sigma 35mm F1.4 defies expectations. I love its ability to maintain sharpness on my point of focus, even at F1.4. The sharpness is impeccable and what makes the Sigma Art lineup so good!
Beyond Portrait Photography
Now don’t get me wrong the Sigma 35mm F1.4 can be used in so many genres and aspects of photography. I’ve shot weddings, I’ve shot street photography, landscapes, and so much more with this lens; and it has never let me down. However, if you asked me, I would say this is the “best” lens for portrait photography. Its ability to effortlessly blend the subject with their environment, its amazing depth of field, and its beautiful sharpness; all contribute to capturing the perfect portrait.
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