Why not to shoot group portraits with a wide-angle lens

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by justinweiss, Jun 9, 2009.

  1. It depends on how wide you are willing to go. I generally prefer lenses in the 35 to 50mm range for groups (55 to 80mm for 645 format). In a pinch I will go as wide as 28mm. but that's the limit. Now for informal snapshots at parties, family gatherings, etc, I have gone as wide as 19mm.
     
  2. I would guess the NYT photo I linked to above is at least 18mm, if not wider.
     
  3. I shoot al lot of press-stuff like this and have done worse. I just try to keep the heads in the center of the picture - and have no problem with a distorted hand or feet near the border. To be honest - I prefer a clean looking picture with a fast 35 or 50 or short telephoto over this wide-angle-stuff but the latter's message is „I wasn't simply there, I was part of the action." and that's why some editors prefer the wide-angle-shots. And from the photographers point-of-view: it's much less work to get a dramatic looking shot with a wide-angle compared to a similar impressive shot with a normal lens.
    georg
     
  4. It's not a group portrait. It's editorial art to illustrate a news report. Very different genre and approach.
    Occasionally photojournalists have time to set up formal portraits, usually to accompany features planned well in advance, but they don't often have the luxury of time.
    In some cases photojournalists deliberately choose to emphasize certain optical characteristics, such as wide angle distortion, for the same reason editorial cartoonists and illustrators use caricatures to accompany stories.
     
  5. In some cases photojournalists deliberately choose to emphasize certain optical characteristics, such as wide angle distortion, for the same reason editorial cartoonists and illustrators use caricatures to accompany stories.
    Well, you can always say any kind of distortion or flaw was an intentional artistic decision. But I don't see the wide angle lens adding any value to this picture. It's not an obvious wide-angle shot in which ordinary perspectives have been exaggerated for emphasis. It just looks unintentionally, and undesirably, distorted.
    My guess is the room these guys were in was too small for them to all be in frame with a longer focal length lens, so the photographer went for the wide angle. But another, probably better solution would have been to get the subjects to sit closer to each other, bunched in the center of the frame. Here's an example of a similar photo (compositionally) with no wide-angle distortion .
     
  6. "I wasn't simply there, I was part of the action."​
    That's why I like that style. As the old adage says "if your pictures aren't good enough, your not close enough."
     
  7. I'm +1 for the wide-angle. I think the shot is great, and it would have been weak with a 50mm lens.
     
  8. filter -> distort -> lens distortion would deal with the smooshed heads.
     
  9. The main topic was the Ipod, that was not distorted
     
  10. If he used a flat lens there would not be this problem, but most lenses arre curved around the edges which cause the distortion. The trick is to move close, or far enough so that the subject lies square in the middle of the lens and not the edges.
     
  11. I don't see the problem. It's more like a product shot than a portrait, who cares about the guys when the iPhones are up front and the story is about iPhone. Taking more formal portrait with three ordinary (or geeky) guys standing in a small room wouldn't be very exciting.
    It almost looks like the NYT is playing for Apple but then again I wouldn't want to publish a tech news pic that looks like it was taken in the '70 either...
    The main topic was the Ipod, that was not distorted​
    When I look carefully there's a hint of motion blur and wide angle distortion... ;)
     
  12. That kind of shot just makes me look away. I don't like the movement and I don't like the perspective - it just makes my stomach go around. Poor taste, all too common these days.
     

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