The Easiest Photography Rule: Get Close

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"Passive" by D. Travis North

Of all the compositional rules for photography, none is easier to understand and use as the Get Close rule.  Technically, the Get Close rule isn’t even a true rule – it is more of a suggestion or a tip.  But it’s a good one.  Also known as the Fill the Frame rule, the concept behind the rule is exactly as its name would suggest:  Get close.  Move close to your subject, try to fill the viewfinder with your subject.  For that matter, you might even cut some parts of the subject out of the frame – even if it’s a portrait.  Simple, isn’t it?  The Get Close rule is a great rule for beginners because of it’s ease of application and use.  The Get Close rule is great for portraits, like the one I have here of my son.  Don’t be afraid to cut off tops of heads.

The Get Close rule works because it eliminates a lot of the thinking – both for the viewer and for the photographer.  From the viewer’s perspective, the subject is clear, up close and personal.  Negative space is irrelevant.  For that matter, since there is less of it, there’s less chance for clutter to get in the way.  From the photographers perspective, getting close means eliminating many of the more complicated rules, or at least reducing their influence.  If you get real close and make sure not to completely center the subject within your shot, chances are your photo will automatically comply with the more demanding and more complicated rules.

You can’t always get close to your subject and in many cases you won’t want to.  So you won’t always have the opportunity to exercise this rule.  But if you’re shooting people, still life photos or other fine details, it’s a rule that can be applied.  So experiment with the rule, and shoot close.  It may benefit your work greatly.

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About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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