If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.Robert Capa
A few weeks ago, I was wandering through an apartment lobby and a portrait of a woman caught my eye. As I walked closer, I realized the portrait was created with an arrangement of tiny figures walking across the canvas. (Click to enlarge the photos.). This portrait reminded me of the surprises and benefits of taking a closer look at the world around us.
The same is true with taking photos. I’ve discovered that moving closer to the subject often reveals surprising details that enrich the photo. When the subject fills the frame (occupies a large portion of the image), I can also eliminate distracting or unnecessary elements in the background, and add more drama to my image.
Here’s an example. On a recent walk, I captured several shots of the statue of the famous author Edgar Allan Poe in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston.
There’s a lot going on in this photo. Poe is striding down the street with his raven, his suitcase, and his jacket swirling around him. In the background, there’s the Boston Common and Boylston Street. The photo seems very “busy.” So, I moved closer to the statue and took the next image.
This second shot is my favorite. By moving closer to the subject, Poe’s upper body now fills the frame. The raven and the suitcase are eliminated as well as the distracting background elements. Poe’s face–his tired eyes, his thick mustache, and tiny smile–reveals so much about him. Even the little details–the buttons on his shirt and jacket, and the tie knotted around his neck give us a more intimate view of the writer. I feel empathy for the exhausted artist, haunted by nightmares that he transformed into works of art.
The next series of photos illustrates another benefit of getting closer to the subject–a bowl of blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and gooseberries. The berries become more abstract–a collection of shapes, textures, and details. The details pop as I move in closer and closer–like the leaves of the strawberries and the dimpled fruit of the raspberry. I love finding these little “worlds” within the frame.
For LAPC #190, we challenge you to move closer to your subject. Post one photo or a series of photos showing what happened when your subject filled the frame. Did this reveal new details? Did this eliminate distracting or unnecessary elements in the photo? Did this add more drama or empathy to your image? Get closer by moving your feet, by using a zoom or macro lens, or by cropping the photo.
Last week, you delighted us with your assortment of Odds and Ends. A special thanks to Tina for encouraging us to post our wonderful, odd, and eclectic photos. Next week, it’s Ann-Christine’s turn to inspire and lead us, so be sure to visit her site on Saturday, March 19 at noon.