How Lens Focal Length Shapes the Face & Controls Perspective: A Lighting Tutorial

The lens or focal length of the lens you choose has a profound impact on the image. It effects the perspective, background and features of the subject. In this lesson everyone should understand what the different focal lengths do to the human face and how they change the background. Why do you choose a 135 mm lens to shoot a head shot of a beautiful woman but use a 24mm to shoot a clown. Keeping the head the same size in the frame and changing the focal length of the lens, I will shoot a series of images that demonstrate how focal length effects the features of the human face and how it changes perspective which effects the background. We will go on to demonstrate a simple 2 light and one reflector fashion lighting set up. I learned a lot from this exercise and I hope you do to.
Keep those cameras rolling, and keep on click’n!


Jay P Recommends for this Shoot




  1. says

    Looking forward to this. And definitely will share this with a friend who can’t understand why no one wants him to take pictures of them when he always uses wide angle. To him, this choice is “Art”.

  2. says

    always informative and compulsory viewing to the VERY end! I would like to see you end off the next vid by enhancing fire with an ipad app… I let you do the numbers on that one JP! 😉

  3. says

    Good video and nice shots but I think you should make it clear that lenses have NO EFFECT on perspective themselves,only on magnification.It is the viewpoint that changes perspective.The longer lenses allow you to move to a viewpoint that is flattering to the subject and magnify the image to fill the frame.You would get the same effect with a 70mm lens and a 135mm lens from the same distance as lomg as the crop included the same subject at the same size.

    • says

      You are absolutely right the Lens has no effect on perspective. A wide angle lens allows us to move closer changing the relationship of objects in the background to the subject. A long lens allows you to move back and changes the relationship of objects in the background to the subject. The application problem is that we can not shoot a wide angle shot with a long lens so we need to put a wide lens on and move in to get close to the subject changing the perspective. Just as a car is not propelled by a gas peddle, its propelled by gas burning in a piston, But we want to make the car go we have to push the peddle. If we want to change the perspective we must change the lens and move in.

  4. Michael says

    When discussing which lens you prefer, it would be helpful to let us know if you are using a full-frame camera or a crop camera. (I assume you are using full frame.)

  5. says

    Do you have the photos in this video available for download? Or is there a way to view them side-by-side, so I can study and see the differences from the various lens? The video shows them one at a time fairly quickly and it is not enough time for me to tell the differences. Even pausing the video does not help. I really need to see them side-by-side.


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