Can’t Decide Which Lens to Use? Here’s How You Break the Focal Length “Rules” to Take Better Photos

There are plenty of rules about which focal length lens works best for different types of photography. For example, many of us were taught to reach for a 50mm or 85mm lens for portraiture and a 24mm ultra-wide for interiors, architecture and landscape shots.

As you’ll see in the video below from Mango Street, the problem with such generalities is they often deliver predictable results lacking in creativity. The point of this quick tutorial is to encourage you to think differently when selecting a lens for various situations.

The video demonstrates why shooting portraits with wide-angle lenses can often provide a different and more interesting look, and why group shots can be more compelling if you ditch the wide-angle, move back a bit, and shoot with a short telephoto at maximum aperture. The tutorial also introduces a technique known the “Brenizer Method” and explains how to use it to separate your main subject from both the foreground and background of a scene.

You can find more tips on the Mango Street YouTube channel. And, be sure to watch a recent Mango Street video we shared with a shootout between a pro using amateur gear and an amateur using high-end equipment.