Panoramic Portrait Tutorial

Although panoramic photography is conventionally used on landscapes, cityscapes, and building interiors, there’s a growing movement of using it in portraiture. After giving it a try, photographer J.P. Morgan from The Slanted Lens was sold on the concept, so much so that he’s created a video to show us what he’s learned so far:

Panoramic portraits allow the photographer to capture the entire environment around a subject, enhancing the realism of the shot and allowing the viewer to get a fuller sense of the life of the subject in this particular moment.

The basic technique is the same as for shooting panoramas, but with the added piece of having a subject as your focal point. Once you’ve taken a number of shots of the entire scene, you then go to post-production to stitch them all together into a seamless whole. One of the most famous originators of this technique, Ryan Breznier, began using this method for his wedding photography and subsequently had the technique named after him. But not all panoramic photography is the same. Morgan favors a much deeper depth of field than is commonly used in the Breznier technique–something that puts more of the focus on the entire scene and less on the subject itself.

One of Morgan’s key tips is to shoot the subject separately from the background. In doing so you can both light the subject separately with a minimum of gear and you don’t have to worry about getting the correct pose while you’re taking the copious amount of shots you’ll need for the panorama. Simply add in the subject once the background has been stitched together in post-processing. It also allows you to shoot at different focal ranges so that you can get both your subject and your background sharp and crisp.

Shooting Panoramic Portraits

At the most basic level, all you really need to shoot a panorama or panorama portrait, is your camera and some decent post-processing software that works with aligning and stitching together the different shots. At the same time there’s something to be said for having the right gear. While a tripod and some good portrait lenses are always recommended in shoots like these, the Syrp Genie Mini is the cherry on the cake here. This impressive little machine works for both timelapse and panoramas and is programmable from an app on your smartphone. If you watch the closely, you’ll see that it basically did all the work in Morgan’s shoots. And, it’s small enough to haul around with you on a plane!

Gear List

This gear list is obviously meant for someone on the go. If you were able to carry more gear with you, a few extras like a lighting stand and maybe a stronger strobe would be handy.

how to shoot panoramic portraits

Traveling with lots of gear can be a bit harrying. That’s why Morgan suggests having practically indestructible drives and plenty of backups.

Do you shoot panoramas with people in them? Let us know what works for you!

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