Wide-angle lenses are not the most common choice for shooting portraits, but they can give some interesting results. If shooting wide is your creative choice for portraiture, there are some things to watch out for. In this video from Adorama, photographer David Bergman will give you some quick tips on what to keep in mind when shooting portraits with wide-angle lenses.
When talking about “wide-angle,” it’s everything wider than 50mm on a full-frame body. So, 35mm, 24mm, or even more extreme 11mm – you can take portraits with any of them, but there are a couple of things to have in mind and some potential issues to overcome.
First, while longer lenses help to separate your subject from the background, wide-angle lenses include more of the environment in the image.
Next, when photographing a person with a wide-angle lens, make sure that your camera level. Ideally, the camera sensor should be parallel to the subject’s eyes. Shooting wide from a very low or a very high angle will give you an unnatural looking perspective.
Another thing to look out for is the positioning of your subject in the frame. As you get closer to the edges, you’ll notice more distortion. This is especially visible with ultra-wide-angle lenses. So, if your subject is positioned closer to an edge of the frame, they will look unnatural. Therefore, the safest option is to keep the person as close as possible to the middle of your frame.
Lastly, anything that gets closer to your lens will look bigger in the image. So, for example, if your subject stretches out a hand towards your camera, it will look really out of proportion with the rest of their body.
Of course, you can break all of these “rules” because distortion and extreme perspectives can give you a unique, creative look. However, if your goal is to photograph someone with a wide-angle lens and have them look as natural as possible, then these are the tips you should stick with.
[Wide Angle Portraiture: Two Minute Tips with David Bergman | Adorama; lead image credits: Luka Djigas]