Using a Wide Angle Lens for Portraits

We wanted to see what it would take to capture compositionally correct portraits on our Wide Angles Lens, here are some easy tips outlines in this essay.

Using a Wide Angle Lens for Portraits

Using a Wide Angles Lens

For Creating Stunning Portraiture

Iconic portrait photography typically features an up-close shot of someone's face with an acute expression or displayed emotion, right? I tend to think of portraits as something similar to what’s observed in Steve McCurry’s famous shot, “Afghan Girl”; a 1984 photographic portrait of Sharbat Gula, also known as Sharbat Bibi. A stunning revelation of the human spirit, guided by unforced imagination and perfectly imperfect captures.

However, the once solidified notion of portrait photography is ever changing - embracing fresh ideas on what captures the human soul. As someone who works for a photography company that focuses on delivering excellent mobile lenses (shocker!), I wanted to see what it would take to capture compositionally correct portraits on our Wide Angle Lens. I’ve gathered some intel while testing this project, outlined in easy tips below.

So here’s what I found.

Just look at this! The dynamics between the human subject and plant form.

Keep The Body Behind the Face

Stand tall, keep the body behind the face.

It’s imperative that we do not place a part of someone's body closer to the camera than other parts, as this will entirely distort the way they look and mortify your client. Should you choose to do this, enable caution to do so wisely for a dramatic or artistic effect, rather than distorting the way your subject looks. If the goal is to acutely represent a fresh look or flatter, this is something to be keenly aware of.

Some images warrant a fun “larger than life” goal, but try and make it more realistic for your first round of shooting.

Keeping the body behind the face, even slightly.

Going to a greenhouse is always a good idea.

Be Mindful of the Corners

Similarly above, objects close to the sides or corners of the frame will inadvertently distort the way they are captured. And remember - the closer they are, the stronger the effect. Thus, keep your subject near the middle of the frame as to not extend or bend any parts of their body. Distortion might be to your advantage some of the time, in case you to exaggerate leading lines towards your subject, but I wouldn’t make it the norm.

The distortion of the building gives a "larger than life" effect.


Layers; Do NOT Place Everything Equal Distance

A common mistake I can sometimes do is place all objects or subjects equal distance from the camera. This often produces a flat, dull image where nothing of significance stands out or creates value. In order to make your photography more interesting, create a sense of depth and perspective — get close, get far. Try to get a subject closer to your lens, then capture something else a medium distance away with the background even farther. Layers are key!

Simple backgrounds always win.

Make A Clear Subject

This might seem fairly obvious, but it’s important that you create a CLEAR subject in your photograph; don’t just point the camera and shoot. This tip also closely relates to tip #1, when everything is equal distance away from your lens, everything tends to feel small and insignificant. Emphasize converging lines and particles on your subject’s hair; make the details count.

Take a step back.

Wide angled portraits ARE possible, see?!

Keep It Simple, Don’t Try and Overstuff

Referring back to what I mentioned in the intro, portraits are typically simple for a reason - it’s effective! Overstuffing your image with crowded object matter dilutes the purpose you’re trying to make, especially in a wide angle shot. Say you’re traveling to a little market and grab a shot on your best friend along the way, remember to use the tips above to create a stronger image. Steer away from fluffy backgrounds with multiple patterns, keep the frame easygoing on the eyes. Simplified lines, clean backgrounds, and detailed shots with a respectful distance away is all that you could use.

Looking fly.

Take a few steps back and create a whole scene.

Happy Shooting!

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