A kit lens is great for getting to know your DSLR. But what about when you want to level up your photo game? What lens do you need to get started in family photography?

When I transitioned to shooting for paying clients, I did a lot of research on what lens I should buy. From the beginning of my DSLR journey I had stuck with my two kit lenses: The Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, and the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III lens. These served me well: I learned how to use my DSLR for action shots, in the dark, for landscapes and for portraits.

These lenses also taught me what I wanted in a lens … namely through their limitations! I love shallow depth of field and the flexibility of shooting in low light, which neither of these lenses were great at.

baby chewing on toy
I love shallow depth of field in a portrait!

I soon added a “nifty fifty” to my range: The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens, which you just can’t go wrong with. It’s so cheap, and a great little lens. However, I yearned for a zoom lens. At the time I was mostly photographing my travel adventures so I added a Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens to my kit. It was an excellent travel lens, with the option to shoot wide at 18mm through to telephoto at 135mm.

The best lens for family photography

By the time I started photographing paying clients, I knew what I wanted for my main workhorse lens. It had to be zoom: I shoot a lot of events with tight spaces, I love incorporating the natural environment and landscape into my photoshoots, and I love shooting super tight on the details as well.

family sitting on rocks in rainforest
Capturing some of the background environment is something I love in a family photoshoot.

I also wanted something with as wide an aperture as I could afford. I’m not one to shy away from flash photography, but I love the flexibility of a wider aperture, and I love, love, LOVE bokeh and background blur.

The lens I use all the time for family photography

So what lens did I settle on, in all my research? The Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens for Canon EF. This lens basically lives on my camera. It’s the lens I have on my primary camera at weddings (my second camera has the wedding workhorse Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens for Canon EF), and it’s my go-to for family sessions, parties and events.

Why is the 24-70mm lens so great for family photography?

The 24-70mm has just enough range in focal length to capture tight spaces and beautiful scenery, as well as getting in close for those cute portraits.

girl eating party food
Get up close easily by zooming up to 70mm on Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens for Canon EF.

The f/2.8 aperture gives flexibility in low light, and at the long 70mm end of the focal range, creates beautiful bokeh and background blur to draw attention to your subject.

boy standing beside hotwheels ultimate garage
Blur out the background with the wide aperture.

It’s a great lens for flash photography too. Because of the f/2.8 aperture you can grab a heap of ambient light, giving the photo a much more realistic atmosphere.

room of people clapping for speech
Flash used subtly to light the room with the ambient light giving atmosphere. Also, I love being able to capture everyone in a tight space with the 24mm focal length.

Because of this, it’s the lens that lives on my camera for evening events and indoor parties.

The 24-70mm zoom lens is perfect for family photography

The best lens for family photography is definitely the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. I bought the Tamron version as it had great reviews and image quality. There are also equivalents for the other major camera brands. It’s a lens that will serve well in almost all portrait situations, and gives a solid foundation for branching out into other specialist portrait photography like weddings.

Trust me: You won’t regret adding a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens to your family photography kit.