Take better photos. Get closer.

Take better photos. Get closer.

A photograph of an abandoned and rusting Ford Customline showing the front left headlight space.

Carry a camera and you will start looking for something to photograph.

When you see a subject that is worthy of a photograph, like most people you might try to fit all it into the frame. Then, you might want to include some of the surroundings to give some context. To get that photo, you move back. If you feel like you want to get more of the surroundings in the frame? You move back more.

When you look at your photo later, the results may be a little disappointing. The original subject ends up lost in its surroundings.

There’s nothing wrong with getting the big picture, but there’s one tip I was given to take better photos. Get closer.

An example

Let’s look at an example using my ‘Light Customline’ photo.

Abandonded Ford Customline. Rusted and missing many parts.

It’s a nice photo but really, it’s nothing special. Just a rusty car body in a paddock. I do like this photo because of the rust colours contrast the colours of the paddock and the blue sky.

If I move closer and start picking out the details, I get a very different feeling from this subject.

A photograph of an abandoned and rusting Ford Customline showing the front left headlight space.
The door of an abandoned car. A spider's web in the corner.

I still see a rusty car just not the whole car. The human mind is able to recognise a part of something and see it for what it is. In this case, an abandoned, rusting car.

The difference is that I’m closer. A lot closer. Taking photographs of the interesting detail gives me more dynamic photos. I still know it’s a car but now the subject is the car. Not a car in a paddock.

This idea can be taken to other areas such as holiday photos. Let assume you’re standing in front of Trevi Fountain. One of Italy’s most iconic tourist destinations. Take a photo of the fountain with the surrounding buildings. Include people in the photo. Anyone will do. Then, take photos of family or friends with small sections of the fountain in the background. Just hints of the statues and water features. The first photo sets the scene, the detail photos tell the story. Sorry, I don’t have any Trevi fountain photos to show as an example.

Moving closer to the subject can give you a more dynamic photo. By all means take a photo of the subject in its surroundings but don’t forget the detail then think about the story you want to tell.

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