Moving in Close

Boy portrait with wide angle lens, wide open aperture.
Experimentation with a wider angle portrait look.

First of all, this boy was such a joy to shoot. He has a fun personality and his own set of unique looks and faces. It was fun capturing some of those for the parents. His eyes at the same time remind me of the father and mother…which I guess makes sense, but it somehow intrigues me with him in particular.

I started the shoot off with a more traditional portrait approach: a long-ish lens. I was shooting my 85mm wide open at f/1.8 to have a nice selective depth-of-field and a narrowness in field-of-view that keeps all the attention on the subject. That was great and all, but I wanted more environment, more of his surroundings. I think I want to include more story to the photo than just what the face can tell.

I think I used my 35mm for this shot. It just does not feel like the 24. As an explanatory note: I shoot Nikon lenses on a Canon body, so the camera does not tell me which I was using, so I just go by the look and feel of the photo. I like full body shots. I want to see the posture, the seat (or in this case, rock), the surroundings, and whatever else is available to help “frame” the subject. And on top of all that, using a wider angle lens for portraits forces me to move in closer, and the resulting photos just have a deeper sense of connection or intimacy with the subject.

Sure, there should never be a formula for how we shoot (i.e. use a long lens for portraits, use ultra-wide for landscapes, and such), and indeed I have always varied my approach. However, I am intentionally using wide angle with portraits for the above stated reasons, and the difference is that I am intentionally searching for a certain look, instead of just playing around with different lenses when shooting. I like the results, but there is still something more I am trying to manipulate, another factor, another “look”. More on that later.

Cooper Strange Written by:

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