Why Shooting Distance Matters in Portrait Photography

When you're new to photography, one of the easiest things to overlook is how working distance affects the final look of your images. This great video will show you how to think about this when you're shooting portraits. 

Coming to you from Daniel Norton of Adorama, this helpful video will show you the importance of a more nuanced idea: how working distance affects the rendering of your subject in portrait photography. Facial topography and geometry are very unique characteristics for each individual, and most people can be (sometimes unconsciously) very sensitive to how theirs are rendered, which you'll often hear them comment on. Depending on your distance to the subject for a given focal length, you may notice differences in how these appear in an image. This is why wide angle lenses aren't recommended for portraiture work, as you have to get very close to fill the frame, and at that distance, the distortion of the face is severe. Of course, you can use this effect as an artistic choice, but it's well worth understanding this phenomenon and using it as you please in your work. Check out the video above for the full rundown. 

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6 Comments

Lorin Duckman's picture

Well Done. Learned a lot. Love the model. On my way to my studio to play. Only have an octabox and two strips. we will see

Bill Peppas's picture

Isn't this the guy who in a previously linked video was claiming anything but Canon, Nikon, Profoto, BronColor, etc is crap ?

And now... he's demonstrating a TOTALLY FLAT lighting on his model... LOL

not to mention the cheap-ass DIY reflector as well :D

William Faucher's picture

He is demonstrating the effects of Focal Length variations. The whole point is that it is flat so there is no other factor weighing in and distracting us from his main point.
Don't be a jerk, man.

A fun video. I found that while she was left in the background holding the reflector, with Just her hands and fingers visible, the model looks like she is acting out Killroy was here.

Ryan Davis's picture

This seems pretty obvious to someone who has been shooting portraits for a while, but I operated for a loooong time before I figured it out. It only seems obvious in retrospect. This is a good video for beginners. Thanks.

David T's picture

Other important lessons here

- be funny, create a good atmosphere, make jokes at your own expense
- there are no magic recipes - shoot, change parameters and critically review until the photo is good