Portrait Shoot with Sony a7riii and Sony 35mm f1.8: Model Test Shoot with Megan

Swimsuit fashion lifestyle shoot - Sony a7iii portrait

Are you wondering what is the difference in using a 35mm and an 85mm for portraits? Let’s breakdown using these 2 lenses and how the images can be drastically different.

The 35mm and the 85mm are very different lenses, but both can be used for portrait and lifestyle photography. Let’s breakdown my shoot with Megan and see just kind of shots you can get with each lens.

Leaning forward on the hanging chair - Sony a7iii portrait
Megan in the hanging chair | Shot on Sony a7R iii | Sony 35mm f1.8 | 1/320sec | ISO 100 | @f1.8

Introducing the model – Megan

I met Megan through Instagram. She reached out during one of my summer model calls and we were able to work together. This was my 2nd time working with her and we had a blast.

She is a local model and fitness instructor from the DFW area who is looking to expand her portfolio. I sent Megan the mood boards for this shoot and she prepared the week before.

If you’re interested in following Megan on Instagram, you can find her profile here.

Photoshoot location: The Painted Lens studio

This shoot was a natural light portrait session held at The Painted Lens Studio in Dallas, Tx. The studio has a beautiful mix of studio and lifestyle backgrounds and was perfect for this indoor swimsuit shoot.

The studio featured 2 large windows that covered the west walls. Each window had sheer curtains that could be used to diffuse the lighting.

This came in handy as the day was moving to the evening.

I opened and closed the curtains from each window as needed during the shoot. This provided more of a soft glow in the studio from the diffused lighting.

The room was painted solid white and featured a handing bed in the middle that was tied to rafters on the ceiling.

The studio also featured smaller chairs and other furniture that I moved during the shoot.

There were also other areas of the studio that featured paper backdrops and other setups, but I stayed within this small room for most of my shoot.

Green bikini - Sony a7R iii portrait
Posing by the window | Shot on Sony a7R iii | Sony 35mm f1.8 | 1/1,000sec | ISO 80 | @f1.8

Sony a7iii and Sony 35mm f1.8 FE Lens

For the majority of this shoot, I used my Sony a7riii paired with my Sony 35mm f1.8 full frame lens.

I know I would be getting wide shots, and I also knew the 42mp resolution of the Sony a7riii camera would allow me to crop into the image in post if I needed too.

This camera and lens combination did not disappoint for this lifestyle swimsuit shoot. The natural light came into the studio from large windows that were diffused with shear linings.

What I liked most about using the Sony a7riii paired with the 35mm f1.8

  • Sony a7riii is light weight and very portable option
  • The Sony 35mm is small and light and fast to focus
  • Image quality is high from this camera and lens combo
  • I could shoot at f1.8 and maximize the light in the room

I would highly recommend this combination or the Sony a7iii with the 35mm f1.8. This lens is a great option for the price.

You can get used copies of this lens for around $650 now so make sure to look around for deals.

Sony 35mm f1.8 Portrait Lens
Sony 35mm f1.8 FE Lens | Full Frame Lens

Sony 35mm f1.8 for portrait photography

I’m aware that the 35mm is not a traditional portrait lens. It features distortion towards the edge when you are close to your subjects.

I kept around a 3ft-4ft distance from Megan as I was shooting with this lens.

I knew the resolution of the images would be high since the Sony a7riii has a 42mp sensor.

This camera and lens combo was my favorite from the day. The 85mm is a heavy lens and can be bulky for long portrait sessions.

I find that I was able to get more of the environment with the 35mm and this gave me a larger range of shots for this session.

Posing and model direction

Megan is an experienced model, so I didn’t need to give her much direction. I had music playing in the background, so she just moved with the tunes.

I had her moving around the room every few mins. If you don’t know how to pose your model, then put on some music, and have the model slowly move to the rhythm of the music.

leaning against the wall - Sony a7iii portrait
Megan leaning against the wall | Shot on Sony a7R iii | Sony 35mm f1.8 | 1/250sec | ISO 100 | @f1.8

Megan was doing some small micro posing in each set which allowed me to move around her and get different angles.

She moved each time with the click of my shutter, and we created a smooth rhythm for the shoot. I like to count when shooting, so Megan moved on the count of 3 each time.

What I like about working with experienced models

  • Experienced models know their angles what side of their body they like more
  • More experienced models also take direction well and give input for each set
  • Models who have shot before like to give creative input and are more collaborative

Not every experienced model is like this, but I tend to get better results with models who are more comfortable in front of the camera and have practiced posing.

Final image culling and editing

The final images from this set are edited using Adobe ACR (RAW) editor and then final cleanup in Photoshop.

Each image takes around 7-10mins. I used to edit for 45mins to an hour on each image, but I really cut this down since the majority of my work is online and you don’t see the extreme details up close.

Final Images: Sony a7riii with Sony 35mm f1.8 Lens

Getting comfy on the bed - Sony a7iii portrait
Relaxing on the bed | Shot on Sony a7R iii | Sony 35mm f1.8 | 1/400sec | ISO 100 | @f1.8
One piece and sneakers - Sony a7iii portrait
Megan in sneakers | Shot on Sony a7R iii | Sony 35mm f1.8 | 1/250sec | ISO 100 | @f1.8
green bikini and hat - Sony a7iii portrait
Megan in green bikini | Shot on Sony a7R iii | Sony 35mm f1.8 | 1/500sec | ISO 80 | @f1.8
Sitting on the bed - Sony a7iii portrait
Holding her hat | Shot on Sony a7R iii | Sony 35mm f1.8 | 1/250sec | ISO 100 | @f1.8
On the hanging chair - Sony a7R iii portrait
Megan in the hanging chair | Shot on Sony a7R iii | Sony 35mm f1.8 | 1/320sec | ISO 100 | @f1.8
Natural light on the bed portrait - Sony a7R iii portrait
Daydreaming on the bed | Shot on Sony a7R iii | Sony 35mm f1.8 | 1/250sec | ISO 100 | @f1.8
Laughing out loud - Sony a7iii portrait
Megan laughing hard | Shot on Sony a7R iii | Sony 35mm f1.8 | 1/500sec | ISO 80 | @f1.8
Sitting on the apple box - Sony a7iii portrait
Megan posing by window sitting down | Shot on Sony a7R iii | Sony 35mm f1.8 | 1/600sec | ISO 100 | @f1.8
Sony a7R iii portrait serious look
Serious look on Megan | Shot on Sony a7R iii | Sony 35mm f1.8 | 1/500sec | ISO 80 | @f1.8
Window shears - Sony a7iii portrait
Look back at it | Shot on Sony a7R iii | Sony 35mm f1.8 | 1/1,000sec | ISO 80 | @f1.8

Bonus Looks with Sony a7iii paired with Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master lens

Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master FE Lens
Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master FE Lens

I also had my Sony a7iii and 85mm f1.4 G Master lens in my camera bag. To be honest I wasn’t sure which combination I was going to be using until I got the studio.

I ended up using the Sony a7riii and 35mm for 90% of the shoot. When I wanted to get some detailed shots, I took out the a7iii and 85mm lens for a few shots.

You just can’t go wrong with the large f1.4 aperture of the 85mm G Master lens. the bokeh is nice and smooth and the subject separation is unreal when using natural light.

Sony a7iii and Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master: Final Image samples

Close up portrait shot of blue eyes - Sony a7iii portrait
Foreground Bokeh with Megan | Shot on Sony a7iii | Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master | 1/640sec | ISO 125 | @1.4
Lounging around portrait - Sony a7iii portrait
Megan in black swimsuit | Shot on Sony a7iii | Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master | 1/500sec | ISO 125 | @f1.4
Swimsuit fashion lifestyle shoot - Sony a7iii portrait
Megan on the ledge of the bed | Shot on Sony a7iii | Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master | 1/250sec | ISO 100 | @f2.2

What did I learn from this portrait shoot

Natural light is very unpredictable, especially on cloudy days. This studio had beautiful and large windows with white walls that bounced light everywhere.

There were a few times that the clouds covered the sun and the room got slightly darker. I had to keep changing my camera settings to compensate. I can change my settings fast, but it might be a hassle for beginners shooting with such diverse light.

The same goes for white balance. I set my camera to auto white balance and for the most part the camera did well in keeping constant. I dod notice some small changes in color temperature in post but nothing that couldn’t be fixed in Adobe ACR.


I had a great time, and I know Megan loved the images. This was a fun shoot and great model test shoot to add to my portfolio. You can check out more of my work at www.dallasportraits.com.

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