Capture In-Action Portraits Using a Wide Angle Lens

Photographing a couple from up close can drastically change the way your image feels. Getting up close with a wide angle lens creates a sense of action and aliveness that draws the viewer in.

Today, I'll be photographing Jacob and Ravena using the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 and the RF 70-200mm f/2.8 on the Canon EOS R5 to show you the differences in storytelling between both of these lenses. This is one of my favorite techniques when photographing engagements, so let's dive into how to put it into action.

From Far Away With a Telephoto Lens

To get my composition, I had to be quite far away, and I instructed Jacob and Ravena to walk in my direction.

I love the depth from the focal length and aperture. However, these images just feel too far away. I don't feel the excitement in these images. Let's switch it up by using the wide angle lens instead.

Up Close With a Wide Lens

A 24mm or 35mm prime is perfect for this technique. If not, a good wide angle zoom will do the trick.

To get the same composition, I got up close to Jacob and Ravena. The scene already looks better.

I asked Ravena to lead Jacob to create depth and direction in the movement. I recommend using Face Detect if your camera includes that feature to help with staying in focus.

Here are some of the images with the wide angle lens.

The Dutch Angle

Image by Lin & Jirsa

The Dutch Angle can be cliché and overused, but if used properly, it can help emphasize the organic and spontaneous feeling we're trying to achieve here. The slight slant to the photos helps make the image feel like it was captured on a whim and emphasizes the sense of authenticity.

Here are the final images using the Dutch Angle.


Check out our final shot compared to where we first started. Notice how much more alive the image feels. That's the power of a wide angle lens.


Next time you're with a couple, try out this technique and see for yourself the massive difference in how the image captures the action when you're up close with a wide angle lens! For a full course on photographing couples, check out Engagement Photography 101, available on SLR Lounge Premium. In addition, check out Visual Flow for intuitive lighting-based presets such as the Modern Pack, which we used for our final images. Thanks for joining us this week, and we'll see you next time!

Pye Jirsa's picture

Pye Jirsa is a director, photographer and educator. Founder and Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography, a boutique Southern California wedding and portrait photography studio, and SLR Lounge, a photography education website, Pye devotes his time to helping photographers develop their shooting and business skills.

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Great show and tell, did you use FPS instead of using the shutter button?