Shooting portraits with a wide-angle lens is tricky but it can be done and done well. In the below tutorial from portrait photographer Julia Trotti, she gives you a behind-the-scenes look at one of her portrait sessions using a 24mm lens and shares five tips for getting the most out of wide-angle primes.
In the video at the bottom of this post, Trotti uses the Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM lens to photograph model Serena Wardell to demonstrate her wide-angle lens tips.
#1 Use Negative Space
“The most prominent feature of a 24mm is that the background is really emphasized in your photos,” Trotti explains. “You can just see so much of the location. When I’m shooting in portrait orientation, I like leaving a lot of negative space at the top of my frame. I do already do this with a 35mm focal length as well, but I emphasize that negative space even more on a 24.”
#2 Center Faces
Trotti notes that wide-angle lenses have some drawbacks for portraits, which you can overcome through composition. “When you place your subject on the very edges of the frame it can cause things to stretch out in those areas, which can be pretty unflattering for portrait photography,” she says. “So, I like to keep my subjects faces closer to the center of the frame to avoid that.”
#3 Fill the Frame in Landscape Orientation
“The opposite can be said when shooting in landscape orientation. I find that the distortion at the top and bottom of the frame is not as bad as portrait orientation. So, I do have more leeway as to where I can place my subject. This is where I take my chance to fill the frame with my subject as much as possible.”
#4 Big Poses
“Before we started shooting, I told Serena that I was going to be using a wide-angle lens, so I wanted the posting to be large, wide, and exaggerated. This is because you subject will only end up filling in a small portion of your entire frame. So, if you’re using small and constricted posing, you can easily lose your subject in the wide frame. By having your subject bring their arms out, having their legs placed wide and tilting their body, you can end up with more dynamic and interesting looking portraits.”
#5 Get Creative
“I like to think of a 24mm focal length as a creative lens for portrait photography that can be used to exaggerate features and bring an interesting perspective to a photo shoot session. One of my favorite compositions to try with a 24 is shooting from interesting angles such as from down below.”