I Want To See Nose Hairs – Getting Close To Your Subject

Jeff Colburn

Do you want to improve your portrait, photojournalism, sports, or almost any other kind of photography? Then get in closer. One of the main problems that photographers, both new and not so new, have is that they are too far away from their subject.

One time I went to a Renaissance Faire with a friend of mine. She wanted to take some pictures, but had no photography experience whatsoever. With ten minutes of instruction, my simplest 35mm camera and a 50mm lens, she started shooting. It surprised me to see her rush right up to people and take their picture. She would get just a couple of feet away from someone and shoot. This kind of confidence usually takes years to develop. Before I ever saw her photographs, I knew they would look great. She had a good sense of composition, and by getting as close to her subjects as she did, her photographs looked like they had been taken by a pro. There was actually very little difference between her photographs of the Faire and mine. This is pretty amazing since at the time I had taken over $2,000 worth of professional photography classes and was making a living as a freelance photographer.

Many factors go into making a great photograph and great photographer. You must have confidence in yourself and your equipment, know composition and color, understand your film and the development process or memory chip and much more. But if you get close to your subject you will be astonished at how well your photographs will turn out.

If you think your subject might object, then ask their permission. Most people don’t mind being photographed, especially at public events. Very few people have ever objected to me photographing them. Some people at travel destination wanted money, usually a few dollars, other people wanted prints. I gladly did this and wound up with great photographs. One note of warning, some ethnic and religious groups, especially Native Americans, do not like being photographed. Be aware of this, and if someone doesn’t want to be photographed, honor their wishes. And don’t sneak their picture with a zoom or telephoto lens. Have integrity by respecting them and yourself.

Be confident and get in close to your subjects. Stop being a voyeur, become part of their world and watch the quality of your photographs soar.

Have Fun,

If you’re interested in Fine Art Prints or stock images of Arizona, visit JeffColburn.com