How Close Can You Get?
It’s not just about physical proximity when I talk about getting close in your photographs. It’s about capturing a feeling, mood, emotion, sense of intimacy. It’s that quality in a photograph that gives the viewer a feeling of being there, being in the scene, a silent, unseen observer. I call this "candid intimacy" and it’s a quality I strive for relentlessly in my photography. I love being close to my subjects. Not just physically, within touching range, but psychologically and emotionally.
For this assignment I want you to find a subject—preferably a human subject, but it’s not mandatory—and make an image that feels close. That does not mean a close-up, but surely you must be near the subject. That doesn't mean putting a 300mm lens on your camera and framing a tight face shot. I mean using a 24mm-50mm focal length, positioning yourself near the subject or within a scene, so you can capture intimacy and closeness and ultimately make an image that captures the essence of a moment, a person, or a scene. More ...
Do You or Don't You?
Model releases are one of those necessary evils. I try to avoid them, quite frankly, but if you ever want to sell or license your images for commercial usage, and even in some cases documentary works like books, they can save you from big headaches or at the very least loss of potential income.
My rule is to not get releases unless my client requires it or the project I'm working on might be used outside of editorial realms and I want to be covered. I would add that, increasingly, there are locations and situations—such as prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutional settings— where they require it as well.
So my basic advice is that if you can get a release then get it, but don't ruin a relationship or an opportunity to make a great image by getting one.
Don't Look Now
Thanks to all those thousands of photographers around the world who have been submitting to this assignment. I have a further directive that I'd like to see folks work with. Try to capture these moments, close to your subject, and NOT have eye contact. Wait for the moment when the subject is not looking at the camera or if you're doing a portrait, don't have eye contact with the camera. For those who love animals, I"m not sure what to say! But see what you can come up with.
OK, folks, now that we've collectively uploaded over 9,000 images, I have some overall comments. In general there are too many close-up faces, and they aren't as thoughtful, candid, and "moment" capturing as I would have liked. There are a lot of close-ups of animals, things, and people, but they lack a sense of candid intimacy, meaning they aren't capturing a real and unstaged moment without feeling camera awareness.
On the positive side, there are definitely some extraordinary moments that people have captured, in some cases quite beautifully and with such feeling. Don't you find that some of the best images submitted for this assignment have been made with loved ones and people close to us?
What I want folks to do is to think more about the situations and moments you're trying to capture and to avoid just using a long or medium telephoto lens to get close—instead, move in closer physically and learn how to navigate the emotional and psychological landscapes where human (and, yes, animal) moments occur. Enter these worlds using your camera as the passport!
Keep on doing a great job, folks, and thanks for being so engaged. I'm enjoying seeing what you're all submitting and look forward to seeing more.
What's the Mood?
When I’m working to capture intimacy, I’m always aware of the mood of a situation. Is it a happy, joyous environment or a sad, serious situation? That will dictate my behavior: how fast or slow I move in the situation, how appropriate it is for me to get close, or if I should maintain both a physical and mental distance. Or can I get very close and mix into the scene? People will always let you know by what I call a silent dance—through their eyes, sometimes their words, but most often by a feeling … It’s a sense.
To get close you must make eye contact and gain acceptance. The culture you're working in also dictates what is an appropriate distance or proximity to maintain. Invariably, if you work in a respectful, humble, and gentle manner, most cultures will accept you close to them. Gender, of course, also plays a role.
You can start by asking for permission. Quite often, if it’s a fluid scene where I haven’t had a chance to make solid contact with the subject or any other person from whom permission is needed, I’ll work silently and glide into a scene to find the right spot to be. Whenever possible, getting permission first is not only advisable but also the right thing to do. Always respect your subjects and remember you have no reason, in the normal world, to be there with a camera.
Be curious and open.
Exude warmth, comfort, and safety.
Be confident and sure of yourself. If you believe in what you’re doing, others will accept you more easily and feel comfortable with your presence.
I've never had an editor comment on my pictures. How do I know whether they have been looked at? Sure would be nice to get some feedback. I'm wondering if I'm doing something wrong.
Not being able to attend an assignment for lack of time is frustrating. But it is temporary! Really looking forward to definitely return. Good luck everyone! #LetsExplore!
What do you think?
I am sorry that I didn't see this website until today! I just got back from a mission's trip to the Dominican Republic. After looking at my photos, and receiving some good feedback, there are several that I believe are remarkable. The kind of pictures that you are requesting in this assignment are the moments that I like to capture in my photography. I wish that I would have seen this yesterday. :-(
I am really sorry for the delay, but can you please consider my following photo for the assignment "How Close Can You Get?"
Thank you! :)
I am Submitting this photo for the assignments "How Close Can You Get? , This was a portrait , i am trying to Highlighted the colors of his Life ..
There was the Link - http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/4084539/
Thanking you , with regards Arko dip Mukherjee
My son William Dow wanted a camera for his 12th birthday June 28, 2013. Over the past year he has taken some great photos. If you have time please review his photos and let me know what you think. These are the two photos I submitted to this assignment.
I would like to thank the editor Meghan Murphy for her nice note on my submission. She knew what I went thru and her words brought me so much comfort. Thank you so much!!!! Much appreciated!
These is my shots for the assignments: "How Close Can You Get? "
Good luck for everyone....Life is Beautiful! Enjoy it!
I feel its the human emotions that ED Kashi is talking about, as the tagline speaks its not the camera that should go towards the subject with a zoomed lens but its actually the feel of emotion to be captured very closely
Hope you guys like my work to.. :)
I am a bit confused...I thought the how close can you get them would end last Sunday. I also see people still uploading pics outside to the them, so when do we as photographers know that what we upload is still for the them and not just for our page to look at?
After reading Ed Kashi's updates and paying attention to the "thoughtful, candid, and "moment" capturing" emphasis and later his advice about waiting "for the moment when the subject is not looking at the camera or if you're doing a portrait, don't have eye contact with the camera", this was the best I managed to come up with:
I just hope it fits in the purpose of this assignment. And I am already looking forward for the next one :-) Good luck to all of you guys and girls and regards from Portugal!
Which do you guys like more?
The close up, http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/4014916/
Or the full wings embrace? http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/4005073/
Thanks!!!! :) :) :)
Hi friends after few hours this assignment will be closed… it’s a fantastic title and much many story full subject can be included here…. I just loving this assignment. Friends again I am sharing my uploaded image link. Hope all will like it or your suggestion will be highly regarded.
I used to paint, and then life happened ie school, family, financial burdens etc. I barely had the time to devote the time necessary for art. So I was able to scrape up some money for a camera that was fairly decent for the time. And I figured I would start taking pictures of all the beautiful things around me, and when I have time I would go back to painting/mixed media artwork. However, I became rather captivated by trying to capture that particular moment in a frame. I am still a total newbie, who just enjoys trying to capture that moment, so I can hold on it. I would definitely love to improve my shots better. And I am really open to suggestions and tips on how to get better. I really want to get to the point where I can invoke emotions and tell really great stories with my pictures. I just really want to do my share in making an impact in the world we currently live in. I want to be able to get people to think, to bring them together to appreciate the ever so fleeting moments we have together as people in a magical world we call planet earth. How do I capture the magic around me and invoke emotions?
I'm a new comer in the field of photography, completely guiding by self-learning mechanism. And hence, I feel there are lots of angles which are still not known to me.
So, feel free to make critical analysis (both +ve and -ve) and please, help me to do far better. Thank U.
Wow, 775 favorites so far. Won't that be fun to cull down for the story. Time for a new challenge...
I really like that they have not yet announced the next assignment! It seems to bring a bit more focus to the topic. The editors should consider this for ongoing standard.
I have been doing photography as a passionate hobby for some time now. If you have time and would like to help a fellow photographer with their skills, please do not hesitate to comment nor give me back critical criticism, or any positive comments. It would really help, as I am still new to this field, and would like to explore much more perspectives.
This would be much appreciated!
Hello, dear photographers.
I am new to photography and would LOVE some tips on my photos. If you have the time stop by and help me out I would be glad. complete honesty is all i request .
I appreciate the help. :)
Have a great day and good luck. :)
Hello fellow photographers! I am new here, and wish to get some feedback for my photos. Please let me know what you like and dislike and how would you think the photos can be improved. Thank you very much for your time. Would gladly do the same :)
I tried to stretch the boundaries of this brief, and I think I finally managed it with my last photo. I'm disabled, and unable to move round well, so I had to gain that closeness without being able to actually get close to people especially as it's so hot at the moment so I'm confined to an air conditioned house or car. So my photos were an exercise in getting close when you can't get close. Here they are, I'd appreciate anyone's feedback on the images and also on my non-standard way of having to pursue this brief.
Is it possible to remove a photo that i submitted? I submitted a wrong one by mistake. Now I tried to submmit the right one but I couldn't because of the 3 photos limit.
@Siddharth Mahajan They are busy curating images. Check back on Jul 30, 2014 to view the published story.
And no,the number of likes doesn't have any relation with the selection.
@Karen Roberts They have thousands of photos to go through. If they commented on every photo they would never sleep.
@Alann De Vuyst
I believe the postings on this page, of their links to their photos' pages are NOT going to be considered for the assignment, as they have missed the deadline. But I am not the editor.
@Alann De Vuyst
The photos you upload to the assignment will show in the metadata on the right side of those photos' pages.
@Carlos Simões Great photo
@S. Tarek With patience and desire!
@Terry Shapiro You know how to check the real right? But you're right - challengesR4fun - http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/profile/710205/
@todd comer Personally like the double back method but you're probably right
@Sugirtha Nagesu Over 3 million photo's uploaded to Nat Geo alone - take what you can get and just enjoy. People with Camera's - you're less than 1 in a million on this globe...the sooner you enjoy what you do, the sooner you'll feel rewarded.
@Juan Torres If you read the rules once you have submitted you can remove but not replace. Sorry!
@Juan Torres I have made same mistake. but you are unable you to change photo after you submit 3 photo limit
Yes, I understand, but I wasn't just taking about this contest. I was talking about the daily shots too. I know that even with those there's a lot of pictures to go through. It would just be nice to get some feedback.
@Simona P. thanks :).
Hi Kathleen, they will send you a message in your 'in box'.. I got lucky 'once' when a editor liked my dog picture for a pet assignment and I received a message and an E-mail.
@Karen Roberts And as with the daily shots, they don't have the time. They have enough to go through in the first place without having to critique everyones work even though they may like to. They will quite often leave a comment on someones work they feel is over and above the norm.
If I desire or need feedback in a creative endeavor I have found it useful to take a class where art is critiqued as part of the course