Focal length is one of those things that I think is commonly misunderstood. Many people just refer to it as "zoom" and think more zoom = better/more expensive. I personally love shooting with prime lenses (they do not zoom at all!?!). I do own the two zoom lenses that are often considered staples for professional photographers (24-70 f/2.8 & 70-200 f/4 & f/2.8 versions), but I do not use them unless I have a specific reason to do so.
There are a number of reasons I gravitate towards my prime lenses, but ultimately it comes down to my style. When I am shooting portrait sessions, such as high school senior sessions I might go the whole session with just my 85mm lens. For me, on a full frame camera body, the 85mm lens is a great balance between "zoom" or how far I have to stand from my subject and distortion or lack of, which creates flattering features.
When I head out to a standard portrait session I will likely bring with 3 lenses:
35mm - to create some more interesting looks
50mm - when I am feeling brave or want an image to look more "flat", I love this lens, but have not mastered it yet
85mm - my go to lens for shooting portraits
So as you can see, focal length has as much or more to do with distortion or the look you get than it does with how much "zoom" you have. A "bigger" focal length typically means a more flattering portrait, with smoother bokeh, a middle of the ground focal length such as 50mm creates a fairly flat image and a "smaller" focal length such as 35mm creates more distortion and you have to be quite close to your subject to get a tight shot. To give you an idea, the camera on the iphone is appx 35mm.
Interested in booking a portrait session or ready to book your high school senior session? Head on over to my contact page and get in touch! I cannot wait to get to meet and photograph you.