Get Closer

If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.‘ Robert Capa

Robert Capa was a photojournalist who believed that the best pictures are made when the photographer is as close as possible to their subject. Today, many photographers use zoom lenses to make it look as though they were close to their subject when they were not. This is not what Capa advocated. 

Zoom with your feet and get physically close to your subject. This will help the viewer feel close to your subject too. One way to practice getting closer to your subject is to use a fixed focal length lens on your camera. Your mobile device has a fixed focal length lens. If you have a pointed shoot camera or a DSLR with a zoom lens, use the same focal length for every picture for several days. You will want to use a focal length in the normal to the slightly wide-angle range, 50mm to 35mm. On a DSLR with a zoom lens, you can set the focal length and use a small piece of tape to hold it in place before you go out. This will help to remind you to zoom in with your feet instead of your lens.

Get uncomfortably close, then back away just a bit. Getting extremely close to your subject helps you to see it differently. You see interesting details and more of the physical structure of what you are about to photograph. Taking the time to look closely at the details of your subject will help you eliminate elements you might find distracting later. Something else to look for is the relationship between your subject and the foreground and background of your picture. Is there something in the frame that is distracting? Can you move slightly and choose another angle that will eliminate the distraction and improve the composition? Most pictures are taken in a standing position, so consider getting lower or higher than eye level when looking at your subject’s relationship to its environment. Getting closer to your subject will help you and the viewer have a better connection with your pictures.

Tetbury Camera Club welcomes photographers of all levels. For more information about the club, please visit

This is an article I wrote for the Tetbury Camera Club that appeared in the December 2021 edition of the Tetbury Advertiser.

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