In 35mm photography, a “portrait lens” is usually considered to be a fast lens with a focal length of around 80-135mm. This allows you to achieve a shallow depth of field and a pleasant perspective that doesn’t distort your subject’s facial features. But that doesn’t mean you should rule out wide angle lenses completely when shooting portraits.
In the 4-minute video above, Rishi Sanyal of DPReview explains why he prefers wide-angle lenses for portraiture.
“They can provide a sense of place that helps tell a story. They can also enhance depth,” Sanyal says. “And in my opinion, the slight distortion you get from shooting close-up at 35mm is similar to what we experience when viewing loved ones from up close.”
“In essence, you get a shot that feels like you’re standing right there with the subject. I think that it lends a familiarity and intimacy to the portrait.”
To illustrate his point, Sanyal does a photo shoot with a couple of models at golden hour in Discovery Park in Seattle.
Image credits: Video and still frames by DPReview