Friendly Friday: Close Examination

In this week’s Friendly Friday Challenge Amanda says to share pictures with ‘Close Examination.’

My friend L and I used to go on all day photo walks together. We were best buddies who had totally different styles of photography. While I was constantly walking around searching for scenes and people, L could hover over a flower for hours. OK, it only seemed like hours 🙂

L would take beautiful, intimate macro shots. Her photos were incredibly detailed and given that she never used a tripod and always shot in manual mode, she was a very gifted photographer.

But I don’t do macro and I hardly ever take pictures of flowers. I like to take photos of people or scenes with people. Macro photography with people hardly ever works. However, getting closer does. A famous photographer once said,

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

Robert Capa

Another photographer gave some practical advice,

“The best zoom lens is your feet”

Ernst Haas

I follow these guidelines when doing street photography and portraiture. It can be scary- zooming with your feet means getting closer to strangers. But getting closer means engaging with people and often, that makes for better photos.

As an example, I’ll revisit my time in Cuba. I was exploring a little village when these colorful block apartments caught my eye. They were evidence of a practical poured concrete architecture, probably introduced in the 70’s during Fidel Castro’s regime. Each apartment had an enclosed balcony and it was clear that much of daily life was observed from this perch.

On a ground floor unit, I was intrigued by an array of potted plants decorating the enclosure. A friendly gentlemen saw me taking pictures and encouraged closer examination.

We had a little conversation. He knew a little English. I knew a little Spanish. And then I took his portrait. You might recognize him from a previous post, Transformed.

Obviously there’s a time and place for long shot versus close-up photos. The first photo gives context to this montage. It is interesting only as an introduction to the type of buildings in the neighborhood. The second shot of the lady tells how people live in their space and the slideshow illustrates the power of engagement. The final shot is a personal favorite of mine. I like his strong features and I think his open personality shines through. The shot is not zoomed and it is not cropped. It could only have been taken when I was up close and engaged with him.

Thanks to Amanda for this week’s challenge! I look forward to seeing other responses to Amanda’s post. You can check them out too, here.

Photos taken in Cervico, Cuba. August 2020


  1. I like the black dude. He looks like a nice person to know. I also like that his shoulders are bare. There is nothing to take away from his face.
    I have a request. Have you heard of Sunday Photo Fiction? Donna posts photos to inspire short stories, but she had not had a photo submission in a while. So I’m passing her email around to those she might be interested in sending her a few photos. Here is her email:

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is an interesting angle on the close up or macro photographic scene. Without the background, the zoomed in photo reveals nothing more about the man and so one focuses on what you can tell about his face, his emotions, maybe his thoughts and mood. In the first few photos, one thinks more about his location, socio-economic status and community. The degree of zoom gives us context.

    Liked by 1 person

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