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What’s in My Bag: Sony Cameras & Lenses Needed For Colorful Portraits


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Niah Aldrich (@niahrosephoto) is a full time portrait photographer based in Kansas City, Missouri. She enjoys pushing colors to the max, and traveling to meet new creatives in other cities. Her work consists of off camera flash, and natural light depending on the location. Aldrich primarily shoots her clients in her studio, but gets outside any chance she gets, especially in the spring when the flowers are in bloom. We were smitten with Aldrich’s colorful and emotive portraits and sat down with her to learn about her process and the gear that helps her make her images!

I switched to Sony in 2020 after being born and raised on Nikon. Switching to Sony was the best decision I ever made, and I wish I would have done it sooner. Before Sony, I was overshooting and taking the same image multiple times because I couldn’t trust my gear to nail the focus. Now with Sony I trust my gear, and can count on Sony’s amazing  eye auto focus to nail the shot. As a portrait photographer, I love the  ability to interact with my subjects without having to always hold the camera to my eye. 

I started my Sony journey with the A7III, Sony FE 35mm f/1.8, Sony  Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA, Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 Lens, but have recently upgraded all my gear to G master lenses and the new A7IV. You  can call me a gear hoarder, but I believe there’s a lens for every situation. As the classic Pokemon song so beautifully states,  “I Gotta Catch ‘Em All.”

Could contain: Face, Head, Person, Photography, Portrait, Flower, Rose, Flower Arrangement, Flower Bouquet, Smile

Cameras  
Sony Alpha 7 IV (2): I chose two Sony Alpha 7 IV’s to take  advantage of the improved autofocus, dynamic range, updated color  profiles, larger sensor, and better LCD screens. The IV has not disappointed as a portrait photographer and I love showing my subjects previews of the photos to get them excited and boost their confidence. I  have seen a big difference in colors and vividness on the LCD and on the computer compared to my A7iii. The focusing has also been faster in low light, and since I mostly shoot in studio this has been tremendously helpful. The slightly larger file sizes allow me to retain more detail in the image for retouching, and cropping. My average clients don't need their photos blown up to billboard sizes, so this sensor size is perfect for  my typical high school senior, maternity, birthday, headshot, model portfolio, and other portrait work.  

Could contain: Adult, Female, Person, Woman, Hair, Face, Head, Photography, Portrait, Finger

Lenses 
I have quite the collection of lenses! Here’s the list: 
Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II
Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master
Sony 135mm
Sony 24mm
Sony 35mm
Sony 50mm
Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G

And here are some thoughts on a few of my favorites:

Sony 24mm: The 24 is a very specific focal length that I have to be careful with  portraits. Too close and the face becomes super thin, and distorted, but used correctly it can be a powerful tool. Using the wide to my advantage I’m  able to capture more of my environment and emphasize certain features that give a memorable look. I will often use this lens for fashion, models, and creative shoots.  

Sony 35mm: I have grown to love this lens. For someone who loves environmental portraits I find myself always gravitating toward this focal length.  It is perfect for indoor low light situations, and outdoors. It is light, fast, sharp, and like all the GM lenses, it is built like a tank. It is definitely one of my most used, and loved lenses. 

Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G: This is the sharpest most detailed lens I own! It is my go to for beauty shots, and studio portraits. The ability to macro focus on the eye, nails, and lips makes this lens essential for branding  shoots. 

Could contain: Face, Head, Photography, Portrait, Smile, Grass, Petal, Daisy, Blouse, Dress

Lighting Accessories 
Lindsey Adler Optical Spot by Westcott: I can attach this spotlight onto my flash, and LED lights. This spotlight allows me to create lighting effects, patterns, with shapes of light on the background, and subject. Using the leaves to slice the light into rectangles, squares, triangles, and the circle gobos shapes I’m able to creatively control the light to give my  image some dimension. I love using colored gels with this tool for some extra colorful fun!  

Gobo & Inserts: These gobos “go-betweens” are inserted in the optical spotlight creating even more patterns and shapes you can choose from. They have hearts, windows, circles, blinds, stars, palm leafs, and really anything you can think of to add extra creativity to my images.  

AD300: I use these in the studio to light the background, side light the subject, and light the hair from above. These are also wonderful on location or in shady areas when I need to pop my subject with flash and don’t have enough light to use a reflector.
 
AD400: I will often use this as the key or main light in the studio. I will take this light outside when I want a more powerful controlled light on sunnier  days. 

V1: I use these speed lights on and off camera at events, and weddings. I will often have one on my camera, and 3 or 4 around the room depending on the venue, and location. 

R2 Pro Trigger: This controls all off camera flashes, and speed lights.  With this trigger I’m able to wireless control the brightness of each flash.

Rogue 2-in-1 Super Soft Silver 32” Reflector: If I’m shooting on location you can bet I have this with me. The Rogue soft silver is my favorite reflector. It’s a mix between the normal silver most used, and a white. It creates a soft but beautiful bounce back into my subjects when I need more detail in the shadows. 

Diffuser 32”: The diffuser is a must to cut the harsh sunlight while creating super soft light for my portraits. You’ll often see me shooting at high noon using both of these reflectors to cut light and pop back that light. 

Seamless Paper Rolls: I love using paper to create beautiful studio portraits. I have over 30 rolls to choose from that I use to make my subject pop while keeping color theory in mind for the perfect backdrop color.  
 

Niah will be participating in an AMA right here in the forums on January 8th at 10am PST. We'd love to have you join us live, but if you can't be there, you can post questions for Niah ahead of time in this thread.

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