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Move closer | Family Photography Hints, Tips and Advice

The legendary war and documentary photographer Robert Capa once said

“If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”

That’s really good advice for (almost) all photographers, including those doing family photography. It’s so easy to stand back from a scene and take the shots from a distance. But very often it’s just too far back.

For family photography:

  • closer is more personal
  • closer captures more expression
  • closer adds interest
  • closer adds feelings – both in the subject and the viewer
  • closer creates the unexpected

You might already know that a “close up” usually refers to a shot that is composed of someone’s head and shoulders:

family photography

<< Notice how you are drawn in by Poppy’s eyes, how the background is present but not distracting (and the light is great as well – but that will be the subject of another post).

family photography

>>But you don’t need to stop there. Experiment with getting even closer – either by moving closer to your subject or using the zoom. (You will find that with the zoom in particular, there will be a limit to how close you can get and still be able to focus.) Notice how much expression is introduced into this shot:


family photography


<<And how this shot is full of emotion, partly because the woman is not looking directly into the camera:

When I tutor, this is the point at which the penny drops, simply because although my groups have seen shots like this they have not taken them personally. I can see all sorts ideas forming in their minds as they slowly realise the possibilities.


Then I suggest they go even further – perhaps like this>>


Beyond that (like extreme close shot of the eye) and we are probably straying into art photography territory, but you might find it interesting to experiment.


Now it’s your turn:

Grab your camera and try out some of these closer shots. Don’t forget to try asking your subject to look away from the camera. Ask yourself what extra dimension you feel this style brings to the shot, the person and your photography.

And, most of all, enjoy yourself . . .



This post is a one in a series on Family Photography hints, tips and advice that I will be posting in the run up to Christmas. Please add a comment here or on my Facebook page if there is any aspect of your photography you’d like some help with.

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