Portrait photography lens choice is really critically important in portrait photography. Most portrait photographers reach for their 85mm or 105mm lens when heading out on a shoot. These focal lengths give a nice, realistic look to the subjects. However, I find myself drawn to portraits that have a surreal look to them. Also, wide-angle lenses require you to shoot close to your subject, which also brings your viewer into the scene.
The first step is to leave your 85mm or 105mm in the bag, and grab a wide angle lens. Most of the portrait photography. For me, this focal length is the perfect blend of reality and distortion. If you shoot much wider, elements closer to the lens, such as arms and hands, look too big or elongated. Also, wider focal lengths mean a much bigger background, which is usually not desirable. Your subject is paramount. The Indonesian dockworker is amazing. On the other hand, you could spend all day photographing me on the same dock, in front of the same ships, and have nothing but tossers at the end of the day. Clothing is critically important. If your 90 year old rural villager is wearing a hat that says, I Love New York – then you will want to politely ask him to take it off, or at least turn it around for the picture. The point is, don’t let out of context clothing ruin or weaken your shot.
Background Portrait Photography
Always remember, your background must be non distracting. Although you can easily isolate your subject with a longer focal length, the background becomes a major consideration with wide angle portraits. Beginner, and even intermediate photographers, can overlook even some obvious distractions in the background. You have probably seen them before – trees that look like they are growing out of the subject’s head, patchy spots of bright light in the scene, colorful objects, straight lines and geometric shapes. You essentially don’t want anything that competes with your subject for attention.