Getting a great picture of another person, or even yourself, can be a tough process as there are so many variables. One that's often neglected is focal length, or what essentially determines the magnification and perceived depth of a subject in a photograph. The photography experts at The Slanted Lens explain why it's important and how it affects your portraits.
If you're taking a photo at a wide angle (i.e. zoomed out), you'll probably see some distortion. Chances are you've appeared a little bulbous in your webcam or mobile phone photos, and that's because the lenses used in both are wide. This results in an image that's not necessarily a realistic depiction of space. The depth is over-emphasised and it can make people appear kind of goofy-looking. If you're photographing a clown, that's great. If you want a nice portrait of your mum, she might not appreciate the effects of a wide lens. That's why normal or telephoto lenses (or zooming in on your point and shoot camera) produce better portraits. For more tips on taking better portraits, check out our guide.
How Lens Focal Length Shapes the Face & Controls Perspective: A Lighting Tutorial [The Slanted Lens on YouTube via DIY Photography]