Portrait/Profiles- Lens choices

Started Oct 3, 2022 | Discussions thread
OP viper699 Senior Member • Posts: 1,226
Re: Portrait/Profiles- Lens choices

Gato Amarillo wrote:

Somewhat echoing Klaus, traditional portraits look most natural shot from a conversational distance -- say around 4 to 6 feet, typical for a slightly formal conversation. This gives a natural perspective on the facial features, plus it's a comfortable distance for both photographer and subject.

At that distance something like an 85mm lens gives a natural head and shoulders framing. In your case with a 50mm equivalent you probably want to stay back a bit and frame a bit loose. If you move in too close the perspective gets odd and the nose looks too large. You can crop a little in post.

That's not a rule by any means, just a convention that makes for a good starting place. I will often unconsciously work closer to people I know or like, farther back from strangers or folks I don't like. Sometimes when I like the subject I catch myself moving in too close and framing too tight, so have to push myself to take a step back.

Be aware of the background. Avoid anything that might be distracting, such as bright spots of light or bold colors. Generally keep your subject at least a few feet away from the background.

I usually shoot around f5.6, sometimes 4, sometimes 8. I want to keep the whole face in focus -- both eyes, the nose, and back toward the sideburns -- but in most case also want the background to be a bit soft.


Thanks a lot for the info, very helpful. This will be my first "serious" shooting beyond casual/random moments out in nature. I tend to prefer shooting candids when on the street. I like natural etc.

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