Practice 3

Get Closer

Look deeply
Focus fully
When people ask me for help with their photography, after spending time looking at their pictures, I almost always find myself saying, get closer. For today’s assignment chose a thing that interests you or something you find appealing. Spend your entire 10 minutes, or more if you wish, photographing that one thing. Don’t be afraid to get really close to your subject. It is the easiest and most dramatic way to instantly make your photographs more interesting. Let your subject fill your entire frame. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes. You can start farther away from your subject and move in closer and closer, as with these photographs of fallen flowers on a hiking path.
You may wish instead to photograph your entire subject where you find it, then move in closer and photograph its parts as you did when you photographed your tree.

Before you begin, put your phone in airplane mode, take three slow breaths and empty your mind. Please stay fully focused on what you’re photographing for the entire 10 minutes. If your mind wanders, return to the slow deep breathing until nothing but the practice is in your head.

When you finish shooting look at your pictures. Select the ones you like best and when you have time, try to analyze why. As you do, you are learning about your “eye.” You’ve heard people use the term “a great eye”. There is a common belief that some people have a “great eye”. But what is that legendary “great eye”?
Simply stated, it’s the ability to see what is interesting, beautiful, well designed, or compelling. Well, you have a great eye. You know what attracts you and what interests you, what you find beautiful. Photograph those things that please that “great eye” that is uniquely your own. Learn to believe it. It comes from deep inside you. This getting closer is a great practice to do again and again. It’s calming and aesthetically pleasing to focus fully and photograph something that attracts you, for whatever reason. This kind of thoughtful focus and strengthening of your perceptive abilities will eventually help you to focus better on people as well, appreciate what you like about them and why. But it’s too early to go there now. Time to get to work.