Quick Photo Tip: Get Close. Then Get Closer.


This has to be the granddaddy of all family photography photo tips…maybe of all photo tips!


It just has to be; the people who take it to heart are instantly better photographers. Getting closer with your camera has a very serious success rate. Memories and moments and stories are all better for it.

I figure it was sometime in the middle of the nineteenth-century. Photography was in its infancy. Somebody, who had mastered the new art, told a younger, aspiring photographer that their most popular pictures were the ones when they got closer to the subject. People like faces; get close and then get closer. And so the greatest photo tip of them all was born.


I am related to people who swear they would never shoot a picture this wide. They do, however, own photo albums full of them. See photos below.

For many of you out there, when you look through the camera, filling the frame with a human face feels rude, like an invasion of privacy. The last time you were this close to someone, a kiss ensued. Its intimate, for sure, and that’s why it works. It’s the ace card in any motion picture. They slowly build to a dramatic close-up. You can’t help but hitching your emotions to that train. You’re human. It’s a normal reaction. Close-ups are wonderful. Like I said, they happen right before a kiss.

There are two way to get closer to your subject with a camera. You can simply walk closer to your whatever it is you’re photographing. Or you can zoom in optically with your camera. When I get closer to my subjects I usually find myself doing a bit of both. I step closer. I zoom in. Maybe I walk closer. Maybe I zoom out a bit. I play around. Every situation is different. The purpose is always the same, however. Fill the frame with whatever it is you love.

I say love, but that’s simplifying things a bit, isn’t it. We don’t exactly love everything we photograph. But love is always a great place to start.

Here’s my assignment to you. Shoot two pictures of someone close to you, someone you love. First, stand back and show everything you see. The lamps, the cars, the TV, the whatever else is a horrible distraction from whatever it is you want us to look at.

Then get in close and then get closer. Get closer than you’ve ever been to someone with a camera. Look at the two photographs. If this does not drive home the power of a close-up you need to repeat this process repeatedly.

These are actual photographs my wife and her then boyfriend shot years ago on a trip to Japan. There are hundreds of photographs from that fateful trip that look just like this; little tiny, presumably small-minded people, in big pictures. They did not get close. They are, to this day, arguing about who dumped whom. Do not let this happen to you. This is bad photography at its most life-destructive worst.

Why are there feet in the picture?

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