How to Shoot Portraits with a Wide Angle 35mm Lens [Blog & Video]

Shooting with a wide angle lens can be an awesome way to switch up your portrait photography.

As your read through this post from beginning to end, you will learn the five best tips for shooting portraits with a wide angle lens.

1. Shoot with a Wide Apeture

Model @arelivanessa. Image shot at f/1.4 to provide nice falloff in the background behind subject.

Model @arelivanessa. Image shot at f/1.4 to provide nice falloff in the background behind subject.

Shooting with a wide aperture, such as f/1.4 or f/1.8, allows you to get nice falloff.

2. Shoot from a Low Angle to Empower Model

Model @petitewithat

Model @petitewithat

When you're shooting portraits, it's too easy to shoot from angles that put the photographer in a position of power.  This makes the subject look vulnerable or possibly weak.

Shooting from a low angle creates a tall, empowering look.  It flips the position of power.  Try it out during your next shoot.

3. Don't Be Afraid to Get Close

Model: Sami Farina

Model: Sami Farina

Close up portraits with a 35mm lens can look really cool (see above).  Many photographers worry about the distortion caused by a 35mm lens and are afraid to get too close to their subject.  But if you compose your shot well, the results can be amazing.

4. Use Lens Distortion to Your Advantage

Model @kathyamx

Model @kathyamx

Distortion of facial features in your portraits isn't always a bad thing.  If you do it right, you can use lens distortion to highlight features that you want to emphasize.  It's all about how you angle it. 

There's really no right or wrong way to do it.  Just try out different angles until you get something that you like.

5. Step Back and Capture the Background

Model @arelivanessa

Model @arelivanessa

The best part about shooting with a wide angle lens is it allows you to capture more of the background. 

When composing your shot, think about creating a scene.  Be sure not to crop out interesting background elements that add something intriguing to your photos.


Don't be afraid to experiment with a wide angle lens during your portrait shoots.  If you practice enough with it, you can get some amazing photos.

Big shoutout to Sydney Claire for working on this tutorial with me.  All images in this post were shot by Sydney.

If you haven't already done so, be sure to scroll back up and watch the video to hear her explain her portrait photography process.

You can follow Sydney on Instagram @sydneyyy.claire.


If you wanna dive deeper grab my free Portrait Photographer's Ultimate Resource Guide below.


About the Author

Dan Bullman is a portrait photographer and YouTuber based in Boston. He produces educational videos, gear reviews and other content to make you a better photographer faster. His videos have been viewed over 1 million times. His portrait work has been featured on accounts like @moodyports @followingboston and @portraitmeet.