How To Capture Stunning Wide-Angle Portraits on Location

Get a behind the scenes of an on location wide-angle portrait shoot with Westcott Top Pro, Eli Infante! In this video, he’ll explore the importance of flash photography and high-speed synch as well as tips for using-wide angle lenses for portrait photography! 

Understanding Wide-Angle Portraits  

Wide-angle portraits are perfect for capturing your subject and their environment. Wide angle lenses like 24mm lenses allow you to include the scene around your subject and bring a cool perspective for your images that normal portrait lenses can’t replicate. Wide-angle lenses also pose interesting challenges for photographers to overcome such as lens distortion and framing. 

The Challenge of On-Location Photo Shoots  

Along with utilizing wide-angle In this video for example, Eli faces having to figure out how to incorporate the lighthouse background into the frame while working in a crowded area. This approach takes patience and experimentation in finding the right angle. Wait for the perfect time and capture the scene when it is clear of any distractions! 

Portable Lighting Solutions  

When working on location and in crowded areas, it’s important to have gear that is compact and portable. Westcott’s FJ200 Strobe with a 24-inch Deep Umbrella are perfect for the job! The FJ200’s is highly portable and excels at on-location portrait photography by providing the flexibility to work in confined spaces while being powerful enough to handle outdoor environments. The silver interior of the 24″ Deep Umbrella and added  Diffusion Panel elevates this lighting set up, offering a strong and focused light that flatters the subject and compliments ambient lighting. . 

Leveraging Flash Photography and High-Speed Sync  

A flash with High-speed sync (HSS) capabilities is critical for photographers shooting on location, especially in bright conditions. HSS allows photographers to use a flash at shutter speeds faster than the camera’s native sync speed, avoiding overexposure of the background while illuminating the subject properly. HSS allows photographers to balance ambient light with flash, ensuring the subject is well-lit without sacrificing the background. In this video, Eli uses the HSS feature on his FJ200 strobe to beautifully balance both the ambient light and the light from his strobe to create stunning portraits.  

Light Position for Wide Angle Portraits 

Eli’s go-to light position is butterfly lighting, due to its nice, even lighting. Place the light as close to the subject as possible without being in the frame. By keeping the light close to the subject, you maximize flash output while still getting soft even lighting on the subject’s face.  

Tips For When Your Light Is in the Frame 

When shooting wide angle portraits, you may find that you cannot place your light in an ideal position and the light and light stand will sometimes be in the shot. Eli recommends taking two shots, one with the light in the frame, where the lighting looks good on his subject, and another with the light removed from the scene, his template shot. Later in post production, he will remove the light stand by using layered masks in Photoshop to combine the two images into the perfect shot. When doing this technique, communication with assistants is paramount. They not only need to place the light in the correct position, but also need to quickly move the light in and out to get the two shots.

The Importance of Composition in Wide-Angle Portraits 

When shooting wide-angle portraits, keeping the subject within the center of the frame is crucial.  Distortion is something you need to consider, the wider the lens, the more distortion you need to deal with. To counter this, strategically place your subject in the center of the frame to help minimize any distortion that might be affecting the subject.  

Creative Strategies for Impactful Portraits  

Add visual interest and depth to the photographs by experimenting with the subject’s positioning—such as sitting on a platform for a different perspective—or adopting edgy poses for dynamic compositions. Capturing the perfect shot isn’t as difficult as you might think. With the right approach and mindset, photographers can navigate the complexities of on-location shoots, turning potential obstacles into opportunities for creativity and innovation.  

Final Thoughts on Wide-Angle Portraits 

Wide-angle portraits are unique,  technically complex and offer an avenue for photographers looking to push their boundaries. By mastering the nuances of flash photography, high-speed sync, and on-location shooting, you can create captivating imagery that stands out!

*Images by Eli Infante + Westcott University

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