View Full Version : Working distance between you and your subject.

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04-26-2009, 05:48 PM
I was recently at an Avedon exhitbition and saw some of the background shots, he was working with Larger format and almost 10-15 meters away from the models. Seems he need a megaphone to communicae with his subject.

What kind of working distance do you usually feel comfortable with and how does that relate to the format you use.

04-26-2009, 06:02 PM
I shoot 35mm mostly, but I have used 120 in my studio classes at school. I prefered being about 5 or 7 feet away. I'm a quiet, reserved person, and the distance kept me relaxed.

I bought a 70-200mm lens for my 35mm camera because I've been getting in to concert photography here lately, but I have used it for portraits a few times. Using a lens that long, I did have to back up a little bit more (I have to be about 4 feet away for it to even focus), which I like.

01-23-2010, 06:47 PM
Increasingly I am working closer to the sitter or model. I am using a 50 (on 35mm) more and more as my portrait lens because I can work close. I find it makes for a much more within-personal-space look (expressively - who cares about foreshortening). I would go with a 35 or 28 and get even closer but you can only say "who cares about foreshortening" up to about 1 meter (3 feet)! If I could get the viewer to stay .3 meter (a foot) from the print or monitor I would shoot at that distance. Sitters/ models seem fine with working close.

01-23-2010, 07:10 PM
The classic studio portraiture distance was about 8-10', based upon the type of portrait and the most common FL in use for the format to shoot that type of portrait.

01-24-2010, 12:39 AM
6 to 10 ft. depending on framing. Format does not matter.

01-24-2010, 07:33 AM
The distance to your subject defines the perspective. The closer you get the bigger the nose.

This is part and parcel of how the subject interacts with the background too.

02-15-2010, 07:55 PM
It depends upon my intentions. If I want an intimate feel I often get into a person's personal space more than is traditional with portraits. Maybe I'd say 3 to 5 feet, but it depends. I sometimes feel that nudes and fashion from too far away feel cold, remote and impersonal, which is fine if that's the intent.

02-16-2010, 06:25 PM
For macro work sometimes fractions of an inch. I've bumped the subject more than once.

Come to think of it I do that with my people-work as well...

08-03-2010, 08:36 PM
Thinking back on some of Avedon's pictures, I feel that wasn't always the case. Some are obviously in the 5 - 7 ft range. I don't have an example on hand at the moment, when I get to one, I'll give an example, see if anyone agrees.

Ian Leake
08-04-2010, 01:44 AM
Typically from 1 to 4 metres, but sometimes closer. And normally with either a 311mm or 476mm lens on 8x10 or 4x5; but other lenses too as the need arises.

08-04-2010, 02:53 AM
5-7 meters

Ian Grant
08-04-2010, 03:12 AM
Sometimes less than a metre, I like to get in close with a wide angle lens :D


08-04-2010, 04:00 AM
I usually shoot at whatever distance I can get the area of the subject I want to portray in the shot depending on what focal length I'm using, if It's a head and shoulders I usually on 35mm use an 85mm lens and work at around five feet.

08-04-2010, 11:09 AM
'If your pictures are not good enough, you're not close enough.'

Rober Capa

08-04-2010, 04:30 PM
I usually get as close or as far as I need to in order to get the picture to look like I want it to look.

08-04-2010, 04:34 PM
Normally depends upon the minimum focusing distance of the lens, unless the subject is huge or far away.

08-04-2010, 05:33 PM
Normally depends upon the minimum focusing distance of the lens, unless the subject is huge or far away.

Does normally really depend on that!

Poisson Du Jour
08-04-2010, 05:36 PM
Moving farther from the subject and using a telephoto lens provides enhanced isolation of the subject against the background; the reverse is true if the photographer moves in closer with a standard lens, all that background clutter will be included. The effect that results is entirely up to the photographer but unobtrusive, complimentary backgrounds have always been popular in fashion/modelling.

01-12-2011, 02:40 PM
I'm all over the map on this one depending on who I'm shooting and what the desired results are. I've been successful from extremely close to the other side of the room with a variety of lenses. One thing that I always do is communicate to the subject to keep them informed. If I feel I need to be extremely close I will ask first which tends to put them at ease.

01-13-2011, 03:47 PM
In my studio 99% of all portraits are done at a distance of 1.5 to 2 metres. Why?

In "Western" style societies this is the distance that two strangers set when they are engaged, interested, attentive, respectful, but not invasive of personal space. This gap is so familiar and consistent that facial features, ratio of nose to ears, chin to neck, etc, just look "right".

Once the distance is known framing is organised by choosing the appropriate focal length; long focus for tight face portraits, wide angle for half-figure, and so on.