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Move In Closer

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Move In Closer

Almost any shot you take will look better if you move two or three steps closer to your subject. Think about how often you end up cropping an image in Photoshop or Lightroom to get the tight fit you want. Pros know that if you fill the frame from the start, it makes a huge difference in the quality of your images. Essentially, when you do it right from the shutter click, your photos will look so much more professional.

[Watch the bonus advanced video for today about Reducing Blur at the end of this article]

To get in closer, don’t hesitate to walk right up to your subject! (Unless it’s a lion; although, this photographer braved it!) Alternatively, instead of moving closer, use your camera’s Optical or Digital Zoom to get a close up shot (preferably optical zoom – I’ll tell you why in the next tip). In the case of portraits, it’s actually better to zoom in from a few steps back. The results will look a little better when they’re taken while you’re fully zoomed in. That’s because the longer lens tends to flatten facial features, making big noses appear… well… less big.

Get Rid Of Anything That Isn’t Absolutely Necessary

When taking photos of family and friends, most people place the subject’s full body in the frame, or they place the head and arms in the shot.

Instead, fill the frame with your subject’s FACE only – particularly if they are smiling, or in a moment of reflection, or have an intense look such as this young woman. There is a time and a place, such as maybe a soccer player, to use arms and the rest of the body in the shot, but you’ll find that they’re more of a distraction than a contribution.

Why You Should Move In Closer

Why is it so important to move in closer? With less clutter in the image, there’s less to draw the eye away from the main subject of your photo. It’s a tendency that when we look at a photo, we actually scan across it a few times. If there is anything in the photo that takes attention away from the main subject, our eye will fixate on it, and as a result, the photo will seem less interesting.


God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers. by Flickr user legends2k

I recommend taking a couple of seconds to look at the entire image on the screen (or through the viewfinder) before you take the photo. By consciously looking, you’ll likely find parts of the image that distract from your main subject. You’ll improve the image by removing them first! For example, the stark black and white walls distract from the lovely image above of a grandmother and her grandchild. I would have zoomed in a little closer to get just their heads to make this a better shot.

Also be on the lookout for objects that don’t need to be in the photo – like the glasses on the table in the image below. Getting the men here to move closer so you can zoom in would improve the image immensely.


Happiest Birthday by Flickr user cobalt123

Also, human faces (particularly children’s faces) are something we all feel pleasure looking at. When you make them the main focus of the image, it sets off all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings. We just can’t get enough of this stuff.

What If You Can’t Get Close Enough To Fill The Frame

If you can’t get close enough when you’re taking the shot, you can zoom in later using photo editing software – crop out everything except the subject’s face and see what a difference it makes. The nice thing about today’s new digital cameras is that they have so many megapixels that you can do this better than ever before. Even if you crop out a huge portion of the image, you’ll still have a high quality portrait.

So move in, or zoom in. The more you make this a conscious choice, the more it will become second nature to you.

Today’s Bonus Video: Blurry Images

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About the Author ()

David Peterson is the creator of Digital Photo Secrets (this site, and the course) and loves teaching photography to fellow photographers all around the world. You can follow him on Twitter at @dphotosecrets or on Google+.

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