One of my favorite techniques for engagement photography is to shoot in the action. By getting up close and moving with the subjects, the image feels alive and immersive. In this video, I’ll be showing how to capture action in your portraits with a wide angle lens.

Video: Capture Action in Your Portraits With a Wide Angle Lens

Focal lengths can completely change the way an image feels. I’ll be demonstrating this by photographing Jacob and Ravena using two different lens: A wide and a telephoto. You’ll quickly notice the difference in storytelling when we capture the portraits with a wide angle lens. This is one of my favorite techniques when photographing engagements so let’s dive into how to put it into action. First, I’ll begin with the traditional telephoto perspective from far away.

For this video, I’ll be using the Canon EOS R5. I’ll be pairing that with the RF 28-70mm f/2 as well as the RF 70-200 f/2.8.

Photographing From Far Away

I walked quite a distance away and instructed my subjects to walk along the water towards me.

portraits with a wide angle lens long lens

Here are the images from this sequence of shots. I absolutely love the depth from the long focal length and wide open aperture. However, I do notice the lack of foreground and the entire image just feels far away. As the viewer, I don’t feel the excitement in the images. Let’s switch this up by capturing the portraits with a wide angle lens instead.

Getting In the Action

I recommend a wide angle prime for this technique such as a 24mm or 35mm. If you don’t have a prime lens, a good wide angle zoom such as the 28-70mm f/2 will do the trick. I also recommend taking advantage of your camera’s face detection feature to help stay in focus.

portraits with a wide angle lens comparison

To achieve a similar composition as before, I’ll be moving up close to my subjects. Already, the scene looks dramatically better.

I instructed Ravena to lead Jacob to show more direction in the movement as well as depth. Then, I began photographing them while moving backwards to keep the distance.

portraits with a wide angle lens wide lens

Check out the series of portraits with a wide angle lens.

Using the “Dutch Angle”

The “Dutch Angle” is known for being overused and cliche. However, it has its place in composition. A slight slant to the photo creates an organic and spontaneous feeling. This can help emphasize the sense of action when photographing your couple.

portraits with a wide angle lens dutch angle

Check out the images I got using the “Dutch Angle.”


portraits with a wide angle lens final comparison

Here is the final look compared to where we first started. The difference is huge. Our final portraits with a wide angle lens feel very in the moment and spontaneous. In addition, we see much more of the background and are immersed in the action.


I hope you enjoyed this article/video. Next time you’re photographing a couple, give this technique a try! See the difference when you capture your portraits with a wide angle lens. Your viewers will feel much more connected and the photos will feel much more spontaneous and authentic.

For a full course on photographing couples, check out Engagement Photography 101, available on SLR Lounge Premium. In addition, check out Visual Flow for intuitive lighting based presets such as the Modern Pack which we used for our final images.

Don’t miss our next episode of Mastering Your Craft on Adorama’s YouTube channel next week! If you want to catch up on all the episodes, make sure you check out our playlist!