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Get Closer

October 15, 2007

If there was only one single piece of advice I could give to people on how to take better photos it would be this: get closer.

People have a natural impulse to frame a shot the same way their eyes see a scene: big, wide and all-inclusive. Unfortunately, this does not usually make for great photography. If you want to take a picture of someone, instead of backing up so you can get them head-to-foot in the frame, try getting just their head and shoulders. But don’t stop there; now try getting just their face, not even their shoulders or the top of their head.

Like all rules, this one is meant to be broken. But it’s my opinion that most people photos can be made better by zooming in on the most interesting part: the face.

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  1. I also notice that people tend to stand too far back from the target when shooting outdoors. And this is universal – even among professional photographers.

    Get closer. Good advice.


  2. I watch tourists all the time on the Mall, standing halfway down the Mall taking pictures of the Capitol or the Washington Monument. I always get the urge to tell them to get closer. Good rule of thumb in DC: Go as close as you think is possible, then get at least a 3rd again closer. And I’m not even asking them to crop anything… you’ll still get the whole building in the shot.



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