A Minute To Learn, Improves Photographs Forever

This photo, taken moments after the first, is shot lower and from a distance of about 14 inches from the cat snuggle party. By getting lower, more expression is revealed. However, by getting closer it is important to not interrupt the serenity of the scene: Shutter release sound off. Move slowly. Don't disturb the scene.

This Easy to Learn Photo Technique Takes Little Time To Master and Improves The Quality of Your Photography Forever

In the Summer of 1994, I earned my first photography commission, a wedding reception, and my first peek into what a professional photography career might mean. My mother’s friend was having an informal, yet civilized affair at her house in my hometown, Bangor, Maine. I was a college junior at a college known for music, majoring in English Literature and spending the majority of my time between the Art Library and the Darkroom. I also had a Konica T4, two lenses, and a serious conviction that I had more skills in my field than I actually did.

I assume the event was important enough to pay a photographer, but freewheeling enough that if I screwed everything up, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Such was the nature of a certain photography market in Bangor in the year 1994. The results included several ziplock bags of 4×6 prints; an equal number of sleeved 35mm color negatives cut in strips; and my first happy client, who to this day testifies to the quality of the work.

This summer will mark 23 years since my first paid photography gig. At this point, I know a lot more about photography than I ever thought I would. But there is one thing I learned early on that was by far the easiest to master; the simplest to remember; and the most useful through every step of my career – up until yesterday when these photos were taken.

It boils down to these two words:
Get closer.

There are a thousand things to say about this strategy, but writing them down is somewhat pointless, this is something you have to do. When you get closer when taking a picture of your kids, your partner (business or personal) or your relatives, you will suddenly be confronted with… an interaction, an intimacy. If you don’t do it right, it can turn out not great, but no worse than actually staying distant. When you begin to get it right, it will change the quality of your photographs forever.

Closer means you need to do you. Or make up a version of you that works when you’re interacting with people in close proximity, with a camera. If you act fun you, you will get fun photos. If you are grouchy, you will evoke a different response from your subject. But at least it will be a response.

Should you remain at a comfortable distance, you will get none of this interaction. The frame of your photo will be inadvertently filled with irrelevant environmental information*; and your subject will be harder to see because they are so, so, very small.

This cat photo was shot from above, slightly telephoto on an iPhone, from a distance of about 24." It's cute, but it could be more cute.
This cat snuggle party photo was shot from above, slightly telephoto on an iPhone, from a distance of about 24 inches. It’s cute, but it could be more cute.
This photo, taken moments after the first, is shot lower and from a distance of about 14 inches from the cat snuggle party. By getting lower, more expression is revealed. However, by getting closer it is important to not interrupt the serenity of the scene: Shutter release sound off. Move slowly. Don't disturb the scene.
This photo of the cat snuggle party, taken moments after the first, is shot lower and from a distance of about 14 inches, approximately the same focal length (slightly telephoto) on iPhone. By getting lower and underneath the subjects, more expression is revealed. However when getting closer, it is important to not interrupt the serenity of the subjects: Shutter release sound off. Move slowly. Don’t disturb the scene.

Solve everything, get closer. (Only vaguely related, but funny “Coffee is for Closers.”)

Happy Spring Photo Sessions Y’all

Your photography guide,
-TR, originally posted May 4, 2017

& Happy Cinqo de Mayo! May the tequila not turn you into a crazy person. (Unless you’re going for that, in which case please avoid my neighborhood.)

*In certain intentional cases, environmental portraiture will be shot father away to include the scene.

Flood Content Free Content Policy: You may not claim my work as your original work, but you are invited to repost this written and photo content anywhere you like with attribution. Please credit and hyperlink to www.floodcontent.com. Thanks for reading.

I took this photo of baby peach fuzz from about 9 inches away with an iPhone.
I took this photo of baby peach fuzz from about 9 inches away with an iPhone.

 

This field of flowers was originally photographed on an iPhone with no telephoto. While the rock wall is attractive, the results are underwhelming.
This field of flowers was originally photographed on an iPhone with no telephoto. While the rock wall is attractive, the results are underwhelming.

 

The closest flower in this shot is about 6 inches from the iPhone lens. I adjusted the frame to include more flowers receding into the background.
The closest flower in this shot is about 6 inches from the iPhone lens. I adjusted the frame to include more flowers receding into the background.

 

This still life of oregano and thyme was taken without a minimal zoom (50mm or 'normal lens' equivalent) at about 8 inches above the subject.
This still life of oregano and thyme was taken with a minimal iPhone lens zoom (50mm or ‘normal lens’ equivalent) at about 8 inches above the subject.

 

I took this photo 7 inches away from a rose bush.
I took this photo 7 inches away from a rose bush.
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About Ed Hooper 11 Articles
Editor and writer producing high quality content for media and businesses in the United States.