New Workshop! Lighting 3 | Advanced Off Camera Flash

Tips & Tricks

Using Focal Length To Make A Bride Look Her Best | Cliff Mautner

By Chris Nachtwey on December 17th 2014

When it comes to a wedding day, some of the most important images you need to create are those of the bride. Sure, there are tons of other moments throughout the day that you need to make great images of, but let’s face it, the bride takes center stage at almost every wedding. Women always want to look beautiful, but on their wedding day, they want to look extra stunning. Many times, we as photographers are faced with a situation of choosing the best lens to create a perfect bridal images, and honestly, it’s a subjective decision based on what you like. In the Nikon sponsored video below, acclaimed wedding photographer Cliff Mautner shows us a great example of how lens choice can really change the look of your bridal images.





Cliff’s technique is simple and one of my personal favorites. He uses diffused natural window light, a beautiful pose, and shoots down on the bride to create a wonderful portrait of her, but that’s not why I’m sharing this video with you. I’m sharing it to show you how much even a small amount of focal length can change the look of your image.  Have a look for yourself, can you can see the differences between the focal lengths?

35mm Focal Length Image


85mm Focal Length Image



The 85mm lens does a great job of creating a more shallow depth of field to help draw your eye to the bride’s eyelashes, and it also gives her face a more natural look. The 35mm lens has less depth of field and when compared to the 85mm, tends to warp her face just enough for me to say it just does not look natural enough.

Final Thoughts

In the end, the focal length you choose is just one part of creating a great image. Cliff uses beautiful soft light and a great angle to make this image really stellar, but when I see the differences in the focal lengths, the 85mm wins. Next time you’re creating bridal images, if you have a longer focal length lens, give it a try. It might be just what you need to make your brides look just that tiny bit more stunning.

Via: Nikon USA Youtube Page

Images via screen grab.

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Chris Nachtwey is a full-time wedding and portrait photographer based in Connecticut. He is the founder and creator of 35to220 a website dedicated to showcasing the best film photography in the world. Chris loves to hear from readers, feel free to drop him a line via the contact page on his website! You can see his work here: Chris Nachtwey Photography

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Rafael Steffen

    Take his workshop and your photography will improve a lot!

    | |
  2. Basit Zargar

    nice pictures

    | |
  3. Troy Barboza

    I love the series he has been doing with Nikon and can’t wait for more of these videos to come out.

    | |
  4. David Hill

    Like you Chris, I am not a fan of the 35mm when used close like this or perhaps on adults but, I do like the look it can give to children…that sort of ‘puppy dog’ eyes look if you know what I mean!

    | |
    • Kim Farrelly

      Move the brides hand out of the 35mm shot and the relationship of size compared to the face disappears. Would change the shot a bit.

      | |
    • JD Land

      I agree with Kim, I actually just shot a very similar image with a 35 where her hand was down by her hip and the distortion on her face was not present. Also, with the hand being away from the focus point the image, in my opinion, worked very well.

      | |
  5. Steven Pellegrino

    I don’t shoot weddings, but I always enjoy watching Cliff Mautner.

    | |