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Shoot It Wide But Close

You can push a wide-angle lens very close to someone’s face and still see the street behind them—there’s plenty of context (see Figure 5). You know the standard rule of photography that states that you shouldn’t shoot people with a wide-angle lens? It’s a rule meant to be broken. Open any magazine and flip through the environmental portraits—you’ll see a horizontal, wide-angle lens used very close to the subject again and again.

Here’s an example: At a workshop once, I had a lovely lady who was assigned to do a story on a boat captain. She kept coming in with these wide-angle pictures that showed the whole boat with the captain doing something interesting that you couldn’t see because he was the size of a pea at the back of the boat. I took her camera, walked up to her, extended my arm, and placed my hand on her shoulder. I said, "Today, you will take this camera and this wide-angle lens, and you will be no further than this [meaning the length of my arm] from your subject, all day." Her pictures improved dramatically.

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