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Shooting the Big Picture

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We were approached by a local wedding network about wedding trends a while back. They asked if I had any examples of WIDE portraits from wedding days and I had to think about it for a minute! Was this really a new “Wedding Trend”? After I started thinking about it, I realized that I think they are on to something! When I think about my parent’s wedding pictures and other wedding portraits that I have seen from that generation, I don’t recall ever seeing really WIDE portraits!

Even back in 2010 when Michael and I were getting married, this wasn’t a normal type of image to see from a wedding or engagement! The word “portrait” makes me think of “people” and so I naturally think of shooting close and tight. However, these WIDE portraits allow photographers to set the stage and share a bigger view of the day! After chatting with the wedding vendor about this trend, I told them that I would pull some WIDE portraits. Β After searching for a few minutes, I already had a big handful of examples. Evidently I shoot REALLY wide quite often!! This type of portrait really breaks up my blog posts! It adds variety to my client’s gallery and I actually prefer this style of image for large prints and canvases. If you’re going to print a large portrait, it probably shouldn’t be a big shot of just your FACE! Instead, a WIDE shot would be more like a piece of art on your wall instead of a portrait of yourself. There is nothing wrong with printing large portraits of yourself… however, from even a decorating perspective, wide shots are more attractive!!! So, if you want to start shooting WIDER here are three tips!!! :

1. Avoid distractions! If there is a car on the street or a big sign, that’s probably not the best location for your wide shot!

2. Use a WIDE Lens! I use a Canon 35mm 1.4 and a Canon 24mm 1.4. The 24mm isn’t necessary but it does provide an extra dose of “epic” in some wide scenarios!

3. Strategically place your couple so that you have awesome lead lines! For example, the branches of the tree and the lines from the fence both lead you to the couple in the image below!

xoxo, Katelyn
27 Comments Ask Anything, Education
  1. Arita Cimermane reply

    So beautiful Photography and great Article! I always love to see clean, minimalistic “big portrait” – there is something magical! But, how you say, the area around must be perfect. That’s often is harder to achieve. Best wishes from Germany, Arita

    • Katelyn James reply

      Thank you for the comment Arita!! I’m glad you enjoyed this post :) And yes, finding a location that is beautiful can be difficult at times!

  2. Nicole Salter reply

    You had be convinced to buy the 35 for this reason! Your wide shots are gorgeous and I have a habit of always shooting tight. Can’t wait to finally use the 35 this wedding season!

  3. Maria E reply

    Stunning! This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and definitely want to get better at!

  4. Catherine reply

    The surroundings needs to be beautiful or “photogenic” though… I even think that trend started 3-4 years ago lol but it’s always really nice!

  5. Rebecca Edwards reply

    Thank you for the helpful tips! You are correct that certainly seems to be a trend. Definitely an artistic twist to traditional portrait. work. We are a husband and wife team starting out and drink up any useful tips offered. Love your work!

  6. Elizabeth reply

    These are simply beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Meaghan reply

    It’s actually hilarious to me that you are surprised how many wide shots you have! I am so in love with your wide portraits and generally when someone asks to see your work that’s what I tend to show them!

  8. Misty reply

    LOVE wide shots!!! I love showing more of the “whole” picture! :D

  9. JIll Gum reply

    I just HAVE to tell you dear Katelyn that the timing of this post is HILARIOUS to me- I had LITERALLY just been telling Michael late last week that I felt like my engagement and wedding portfolios were missing something as I was updating my post, and it was these super wide images. We discussed how to add them into our day- and then I did for an engagement session and LOVED it- and here you are teaching about it!! What funny timing- such beautiful examples here!!!

  10. natalie kay reply

    Your wide photos are always some of my favorites. I love that you capture the whole atmosphere of the day!

  11. natalie kay reply

    Love the wide shots. They are always some of my favorites of yours. Its great to capture the overall mood and feeling AROUND the couple.

  12. Annetta reply

    Beautiful post Katelyn! I’ve tried to do these a bit more this year too.

  13. Marissa reply

    Wow! Those are some epic wide portraits! Love the variety of all those beautiful locations!

  14. Kristina W. reply

    Gah! Those Alaska images get me every time! They’re just incredible!

  15. sharon elizabeth reply

    you rock these photos out!!!!! you have a such a great eye with wide lenses!!!

  16. Brittany Driver reply

    Hey Katelyn!! I love this post!! Help me out here for a second…how do you always get everything so in focus. Do you bump your aperture up, cause I always lose either the couple or the background when I shoot these type of wide shots?? Thanks for always inspiring me :)

  17. Cherina Curry reply

    Hi!! First off, you are so amazing at what you do! Secondly, I would like to know the answer to Brittany D.’s question as well. I am oh so new to photography and struggle with getting the focus just right in wide photos as well. Also, silly question, about how far back are you from the subject to capture these BEAUTIFUL photos?

  18. Hiliary reply

    Do you have any tips for separating your subject from the background? I feel like my wide shots typical don’t highlight my couple very well :(

    • Katelyn James reply

      you have to make sure you’re shooting against a non-competing background that isn’t too busy! Also, I use primes and that lower aperture helps too!

  19. Brittany reply

    Thank you so much! I LOVE shooting larger landscapes with the couple smaller in them. I’ve honestly never thought to use the 35 though! I’m always using my 70-200 and running really far away as I just love the compression. I’m going to have to try with my 35!

  20. Jeff & Michele reply

    I was seriously just chatting with someone about trying to remember to take wide shots! And you’re right–it definitely helps bring perspective to a flow of pictures–almost like it’s giving you more of the story.

    Good post!

  21. Joanna M reply

    These are stunning. I love wide portraits, and I have a few couples each year that like wide portraits, usually the ones that don’t enjoy having their photo taken, and want something that they’d like to put on their wall.

  22. Lisa reply

    Beautiful work. In your “wide” shits w your 35mm, how far away are you usually standing? What is your aperature?

  23. Toshy reply

    Wow, great tips! I especially like the wide-angled views of the mountains as a backdrop. Really stunning photography. Thanks for the tips!

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