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Photography composition: Get closer for images with impact

 22nd Oct 2009

photography compositionWhen photographing people, don’t be afraid to get close to your subject. Have you noticed that when we look at each other, it’s faces and eyes that we tend to concentrate on - well almost always ….

But think about it - ­ how much joy would the police get it if they showed pictures from the neck down on their “Wanted” posters? No-one would have a clue who to look for! It’s faces and expression that interest us, so move a few steps closer or zoom in a bit.

If you’re wondering what to focus on when composing a picture, go for the eyes - ­ if they’re not sharp you’ll need to do it again.

The same applies to still life photography composition. When photographing a flower head for example get in close to it.

Move the camera so the composition in the viewfinder changes and keep looking at the overall image to make sure it's pleasing before you squeeze the shutter. Get in tight so that the edges of the flower head are cropped out of the picture and you’re drawn to the colour and texture.

With people, animals or objects, cutting out the background helps you really focus on your subject. You can move yourself closer, photograph with a longer lens and wider aperture or better still - do both!

Even a small step to the side can radically alter a photograph's composition

For more ways to improve your photography composition buy The Masterclass in Photography. It's a general photography course for beginners and intermediate level photographers. It's written in everyday language and we like to have a few laughs as we learn too (a bit like our entertaining Photography Videos).

photography compositionExercise
Set up a shot the way you usually do, only today, we’d like you to go just a bit closer.

When you do, make sure your subject’s filling the frame so there’s not much (if any) background visible. Make sure there are no big gaps of daylight above people's heads. Don’t worry - they don’t often bite!

Spend the whole day just shooting up close and personal to get yourself used to doing it. Once you've mastered this we can look at doing the opposite...