between the subject's lips and the tip of his nose. For a three-quarter figure shot, the center of the lens is
level with or a little below the waist. Maintain a good working distance to prevent distortion.
b. Selection of Focal Length. Second, you must consider which focal length lens is required for
various types. Head and shoulders portraiture requires the use of long focal length lenses, which
produce less distortion than shorter focal length lenses. They also provide a good image size at
comfortable subject-to-camera working distances. If you are taking a head and shoulders portrait, the
focal length of the lens should be equal to or more than the sum of the short and long dimensions of the
(1) Long focal length lenses are recommended for portraits. Long focal length lenses are
better for head and shoulders portraits because they give a more pleasing perspective, a larger image
size, and more freedom with lights. Because of the close camera viewpoint, photographs made with
short focal length lenses appear to distort perspective, making those parts of the body nearest to the
camera (such as the nose or the shoulder) look much larger than they should. When you use a normal or
short focal length lens, you can improve the perspective by having a greater distance between the subject
and the camera. The increased subject-to-camera distance relaxes the subject as well as improves
perspective, but it also reduces the image size. You can increase the image size by using a longer focal
(2) When photographing in cramped quarters or using a short focal length for some other
reason, try to keep as much of the subject as possible in the same vertical plane. Keep the subject's
hands close to his body or below his head because if the hands are out in front they will appear
excessively large on the print. When you must use a short focal length lens, use as much distance as
possible. Also, consider using a view camera; the camera's swings and tilts may be manipulated to
(3) For a three-quarters or full-length portrait, a shorter focal length lens may be chosen.
Since you are at a greater working distance because these poses require you to include more of the
subject, distortion from the shorter focal lengths will not be apparent. The focal length should be equal
to or greater than the film diagonal, but less than three film diagonals.