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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Portraits with a wide angle lens


One thing that writing a blog does for you is help you to see how you view the world. When you spend a lot of time looking through your images you tend to notice patterns in terms of the way you use lenses, light and composition.

And browsing through my pictures of people the other day I was struck by something that I had never noticed before.

How I managed to miss it I have no idea but looking at these pictures all together it struck me square in the face. I don't see portraits as close-ups of people. I see them as shots taken with a wide angle lens showing the environment that surrounds people. Where they work, how they live, the world that shapes them.

It had never occured to me before but even though my all time photographer is Steve McCurry
(as I'm sure it is for many of us) his straight portraits with their shallow depth-of-field and piercing gazes aren't the pictures that move me. It's the ones where the people are smaller in the frame and are a part of the whole that surrounds them.

I suppose a psychiatrist would give some reason why this would be so but for the moment I'm taking it as a bit of a challenge. I'll continue to photograph people with a wide-angle lens but once I have the picture I envisioned I'm going to stick a telephoto lens on and practice at making close-up portraits. I don't know whether I'll enjoy it or not but figure it could be an opportunity to expand my vision. It's one thing to know how to do it, it's a completely different ballgame to produce something that you feel proud of, and something that resonates with you.

How about you? If you went back and looked over your pictures - particularly those that were of a common subject - do you think you'd come up with a common way of shooting them? Maybe it's time to break the mould a little bit and try shooting that subject in a different way. If you're in a rut it could be a great way to get the juices flowing again.

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