Portrait Shooting Distance – Why It Matters: OnSet ep.184


Hey this is Daniel Norton, I’m here in my studio in New York City with Marissa, and today we’re going to do a video. I want to talk a little bit about compression in photos, and this came about because I was actually in a video with Mark Wallace and Gavin Hoey, we, and Seth, we kind of made a video together shooting Marks profile picture. And one thing is the pictures I took, anyways I got really close to Mark and what that does is it actually changes the way somebody’s face looks. And one of the conventional things that people say when they’re shooting portraits is to use a long lens, right? Use a long lens for portraits and the reason for that is really it makes you backup further.. right? It’s not that that long lens per se is making the person look better. It’s that when the further back you stand the more compression you have, so the more compression there is, noses look smaller, the ears move forward. You know you don’t get as much distortion…if you will, in the face but there’s something about being close. You see this a lot in filmmaking, where they use wide lenses, and they come in really close for scenes, and you get this kind of it’s a little distorted. It’s not the most beautiful necessarily, but you get this really, kind of more intimate feel. So we’re gonna use the same lens. I’ve got my Hasselblad X1D, I’ve got the 90mm lens as opposed to switching lens. So I can show you, and what we’re gonna do is, we’re gonna shoot some clothes, and then I’m gonna back up and I’m gonna show you what the same lens, and then we will just crop in to show you, kind of same lens, how different it looks based on where you stand. Right? So just to go over the lighting, so you guys know we’re doing. A kind of a really simple beauty portrait lighting here. I’ve got Profoto B1X with a beauty dish right here. It’s kind of above the shot, you can see it, that’s going to be the key light on on Marissa. In the back I’ve got a B2, each one fitted with a 1 x 3 softbox, to give her kind of a, kind of a glamour rim. Right to make it really glamoury, and we have this very expensive, reflector that I made from Home Depot. So we’re gonna use this to create a really simple portrait. I think I’ll start with the close one, and we’ll see what that looks like. Then I’ll back up and show you guys the difference. So you could have a seat, So we’re set here at f/4 at 250th of a second ISO100, which gives us basically a black frame. If we do not use the flash, but of course we’re using flash. So I’m tethered into focus here which is Hasselblad software and we’ll take a shot. With no reflector first, because just see what it looks like, right we’re gonna look at our exposure. That all looks good. I have a crop on there for some reason cuz messing around with it. Okay there we go, right that’s Marisa nice and close. Now when I’m making portraits of somebody, like a fun portrait. I like to be close, I feel like it could add a little dimension to it. So let’s shoot something like this, right what I generally do is, get as close as I can until I can’t focus anymore. Cuz it’s past my minimum focus distance, and I just back up. So here of course there was the light is so high on, her she’s gonna get shadow. She puts her chin down, so we will add the reflector in a second. You may notice too that, like whenever I use reflectors, you guys ever notice this, but I always get everything set up and metered and stuff, before I add the reflector. I know some people put in the reflector, and then meter. But I feel this gives you a better kind of, cleaner exposure, and you’re really seeing what the fuck you’re doing. So I’m gonna bring this up, nice and tight, and this is a silver reflector so it’s really gonna kick light back up on her. And if you want to make sure, you can always throw the modeling light on for a second, and then we can see it. So same tight shot, but with the reflector. You can see there the difference that’s gonna make, really Glamour’s it up, so if you’re going for that glamour look. You know this will add that to it, but you know, and yet we’re still close oops. That’s gonna be out of focused, cause I wasn’t ready, ok, very good that’s pretty one. Other advantage you have it being close like this is, your depth the field becomes very shallow, so if you’re into that, we’re definitely gonna have a shallower dept of field, Alright…. so that looks pretty cool right? You can see how around her face looks and everything. I mean this is pretty much what Marissa looks like all right? So now I’m gonna back up now, because I don’t care for, about anything but her, her face. I don’t care the reflectors in the shot and everything. So you’ll see when I shoot, this it’s going to be in the first shot. So here we go, that’s good, hold that okay. Stay where you are for a second please. So I’m gonna come in and I’m going to add a crop to this. Just so as I’m shooting you guys will see what we’re getting. So obviously I have all the stuff in the thing, which is the advantage of having a super sonic mega pixel camera I guess. You don’t have to worry about that. Perfect, all right so, all right now. Let’s shoot a few more cuz you get paid by the frame. You never want to get it on the first shot. Bring the reflector up a tiny bit, good right there, nice, now you could get a stand to hold the reflector, but this actually gives models uh you know a workout. It helps them with their clavicles.. well isn’t a clavicle a bone… so probably doesn’t make a difference. Alright, so anyways it does something. Good, good, good, good. One more, awesome okay now. So let’s take a quick peek, so they’ve been cropping in here, and you can see, oh. That’s pretty, nice, right. So this is a nice shot of Marissa here, this one green. Let’s go back up to where we shot with the other lens, and pick a similar shot. Right, that’s what the, not lens, the position. All I’m doing here is I’m gonna basically just, I just tag them both green, so I can come in and and just see those. Alright, so shot alright, so we can see right I mean obviously they’re not exactly the same crop, I’ll crop this one a little bit, by the way this is another advantage of shooting tethered. When you are working like this with a client, and there is a certain crop you want to get or whatever you can just add it right to your shot, as you’re shooting, and then they’re seeing what they’re gonna get, so they don’t get all concerned about the background stuff. Alright so we can see here if you take a look at her face shape. Right and her nose her nose looks a little bit wider in this one. This is where I’m closer to her, for the back, you see how her chin like look at the shape of her chin, and here’s some from earlier right. So further back right, up close for the back right? Look at the cheeks. Look at the the shape of her face. Wider right? More natural, more, more intimate, more kind of glamorous. So depend on who you’re shooting right, and the look you’re going for, because perhaps you’re shooting somebody who is, your gonna big thing here. We’re gonna put a sign up. If anybody wants to buy advertising. You’re ad here. Here, we can do this for sure. So yeah, so what we’ll do is if you’re maybe shooting somebody, let’s say that has a heavier face, or, and you want to get you know the more narrower look. Right? Then backing up, or using a long lens as I’m gonna help. If you want to add a little youthfulness to it. Getting closer will will help get the face rounder, but also just being that, that closer look, really gives that intimacy to it. So depending on what you’re shooting, when one or the other is not right or wrong. I feel like for portraits, I like getting in close. I like that feel of a little distortion, but if you want that to look as ideally beautiful as possible. Backing up is gonna help, or you know, and I should say when you back up! It’s always best to use a longer lens, so you’re not wasting all those mega-pixels, because megapixels are a terrible thing to waste. We’ve got to save those you know.. otherwise they’ll keep making cameras with more megapixels. We have to keep buying more cameras, and nobody wants to do that right? Wants that! Alright so anyways thanks for watching guys. I hope this was helpful. Be sure to leave comments below. Subscribe to AdoramaTV. Follow Marissa we’ll put the links in the description. Follow me on Facebook and YouTube DanielNortonphotographer and I’ll see you next time On Set.

95 Replies to “Portrait Shooting Distance – Why It Matters: OnSet ep.184”

  1. I'm always interested in what you have to say…… Always great content…… btw – Amazing model…. Just looking through her IG… instant follow !! Thank you both..

  2. Your thoughts on the selfie culture and how it's affecting folks' perceptions of beauty? (Clearly selfies are very close up, more extreme than the close shots of Marisa.) Do you have more clients and models nowadays who seem to prefer the closer shots?

    See also "snapchat dysmorphia".

  3. Love it. . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . .or could it be that I simply love Marisa? Well guess I just found myself another grandaughter !

  4. Perfect! I have always wondered how much compression there really is between close shots and longer shots. Logically I know the DOF would be different, but putting them side by side really displays it. Thank you!

  5. Thank you for pointing out that it doesn't matter so much what lens you are using, it matters HOW CLOSE TO THE SUBJECT YOU ARE. It's the same with depth of field – the closer your focus distance the shallower the depth of field will be – no matter what the lens – and even f/22 is not going to make a huge difference when your focus point is 2 feet away – f/22 might get you three inches DOF where f/1.2 will be less than an inch DOF (obviously I'm guesstimating on the DOF numbers).
    Nice comparison!

  6. Thank you, Daniel, for the very clear examples, and thank you, Marisa, for being an outstanding model! Always fun to see you two shooting together.

  7. Compared to the methodology in Cinema,… the difference in the face's proportion here is really quite minor, because a wide shot in cinema would be done with a different lens from the same distance – it's the difference between a 'wide' and a 'long', where even though both have the same items at the edges and center of the frame, the distortion within the lens is completely different.
    A better example of this is found by swapping to wider lenses as the camera is brought closer to the subject while maintaining the same framing of the subject.

  8. I like that your model is participating (not just posing) and seems interested. Some tutorials are painful to watch when the models act like robots, or seems bored or clueless. They almost look like part of the photographer equipment. In your video, Marisa looks like a fun human being, not a tutorial ''prop'', and it adds a je-ne-sais-quoi to your photos and your tutorial. Good job.

  9. Daniel, if you have enough cameras, you could set them on tripod at different distances, then take photos simultaneously and show the same face in different distances.

  10. Another great video from Daniel, as per usual. Always enjoy it when he and Marisa work together. She has 10,000 times more personality than most other models you see in videos of this sort. Chemistry always makes for better content. Thank you!

  11. Marisa is a good Model for photoshoot tutorials.. She is so damn interactive compared to those others.. I like her very much.. Thumbs up for Marisa!

  12. Very helpful. Shooting close up as a choice. I have a new perspective on the distortion as a useful element in the shot now. Also, the model was fabulous. Her participation adds to the overall feel of your presentation. Thanks.

  13. Marisa Hype! 😀
    thank you again Daniel, always on point, reeeeally important topic IMO – already shared this video to my friends 😉

  14. Hugs from Oslo Daniel. You Are an awesome teacher. What its the diferencia between a profoto deep umbrella XL & a elincrom rotalux deep para 100? ( head shot corporate ). Best Regards. Master.

  15. The closer rounder look does actually make her face look more skinny if you look clearly and my wife actually prefers closer wider lenses in contrast to longer lenses and standing further away making her face and body look more wide. She doesn’t find longer lenses further away look flattering. 85mm and above she doesn’t like probably because it looks more flat. So it depends on preference indeed.

  16. Hum, after reading the various comments from this, it's obvious who's the more popular person in this video…..sorry Daniel!

  17. Daniel and Marissa- you two are the BEST! I watch every one of your you tubes and learn something every time, for that I thank both of you.

  18. Daniel, as always a top tutorial, well explained and demonstrated! Thanks! One other comment, your model was brilliant and fun. Do, please, bring her back for more! 👍

  19. You and Marisa were never this correct and well behaved personas… you are the spoiled pair of bad asses we see in your new series of videos!

  20. I could easily understand why you want to be close to her. Now seriously, I prefer the shots from further away. She Seems to have a sunny Charakter and improves the video with her participation very much.

  21. Can't you have a better reflector with the Hasselblad instead of soiling her jeans with the white residue from the damn foam board, cheeped on your model?

  22. Very well presented subject matter. Thank you! I'm intrigued as to what secrets you have hidden in that multi-drawer tool chest on wheels?

  23. Great examples of compression and compare/contrast. Appreciate the work. Great model, two thumbs up for real humans in front of the camera! Thanks for making it fun and interesting.

  24. For some reason sometimes I don't like how a 70-200 for example looks on a heavy bride but would prefer a 50mm instead. I can't put a finger on it.

  25. The model is absolutely fantastic. My word I'd love to work with a model even half as engaged, animated and interested!

    There was a lovely line that stood out to me which was the "let's take a few more shots because you're paid by the frame". I don't know if this was tongue-in-cheek or not, but I thought it was awesome to see such an awesome model respected by the photographer in such a way.

    A lot of respect for both the model and the photographer here. Great video.

  26. 1. That girl is –
    a. GORGEOUS.
    b. Fun….. she holds your interest by being appropriately interactive.

    2. This photographer –
    Trying my best not to be disrespectful, but…..he and Mark Wallace should be (pardon the pun) … a model for other photographers. Yes, they have very different personalities, but they both come across as "Normal" people who are excellent photographers…..not a couple of Artsy-Fartsy weirdos that got into photography because Tower Records was no longer employing people that are social misfits.

    Thank You to Adorama and Daniel, Mark Wallace, and of course Marisa.!

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