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| p.1 #3 · Wide angle or Zoom lens for candid family shots? |
For me, I shoot between 28mm and 40mm (full frame) for most of my family stuff. In addition, a decent amount of it is more wide open that the 15-85 can provide. If I were in your position (I'm assuming you're on a crop body from the 15-85 reference) I'd think about the canon 17-55/2.8, the tamron 17-50/2.8, the canon 35/2, or the sigma 30/1.4.
But, it really depends on personal preference (and the size of your backyard). For head and shoulders portraits, something in the 85mm and up range gives a very a pleasing look. Look at any of Bob Dein's posts, he probably shoots in that range and does a good job isolating his subject and producing headshots that compress features and favor the subject. At the other end of the spectrum you have a number of folks here (canerino, neighborboy, zalmyb, etc.) that shoot candid photos of their family and very commonly shoot wide angle (28-35mm on full frame) to capture more context and be able to get in close to the subject.
I'd look at whose work I like and think about the lighting situations that you will need for proper exposure.