I like to joke that when I need a model to test lighting or a newly learned feature on my camera or a lens I grab the youngest of our 5 kids, throw him in his highchair, give him food and start shooting. Well, it really isn't a joke as you will soon see.
The 28mm isn't a portrait lens, of course not, but it does have its place when taking portraits. What I mean is it isn't a portrait lens in the traditional sense. You aren't going to reach for this lens when you want to flatter a client, show off a bride, or make an insecure high school senior lover their pictures. That I know but I find myself liking the lens for photographing kids in informal ways. If you look back at Day 1: 28mm in 28 days you'll see pictures of my daughter and they aren't that badly distorted. Here is Miller and again, the distortion to his facial features, where we expect the extreme distortion to occur, isn't there. Why? Well, they are kids. Their features are smaller, less pronounced, so when they get stretched it doesn't look horrid.
In this traditional, straight on shot you can see the lens opening up his eyes a bit more and pulling his nose toward us. All the things we hate on adults all of a sudden isn't bad on a child.
But here is where it gets fun and what I mean by, not a portrait lens in the traditional sense. It is great if you want to really get they viewer into the action. If you want to convey an uneasiness or off kilter perspective in your shot. Get low, get high, put the center of the lens on a feature that will look odd when ballooned out. Here it is on his lips so his mouth is way too big for his face. It works though because of the look in his eyes, the confusion you can see on his face is also in the frame and how it is shot.
The paparazzi shot and the "adult" perspective this lens was made for them. It gets so much of the environment without having to be on the second floor balcony and puts you right into the action. Of course to get the paparazzi shot as the camera man I was actually right in the action. In order to look like you are close with this lens you have to be twice as close in reality. It is a risky job getting close to sticky fingers but I do it for you guys.