Assignment

How Close Can You Get?

This assignment ran from Jul 1 to Jul 22, 2014.

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 ...

Curated by:

Ed Kashi
National Geographic Photographer
Assignment Status
  • Open

  • Closed

  • Published

We are busy curating images. Check back on Jul 30, 2014 to view the published story.
Assignment Closed

Do You or Don't You?

Posted jul 16, 2014

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

Posted jul 13, 2014

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. 

Candid Camera

Posted jul 8, 2014

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.

Thanks, Ed

What's the Mood?

Posted jun 30, 2014

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.

Don’t judge.

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.

Ed Kashi

Ed Kashi

National Geographic Photographer
Ed Kashi is an award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker who has produced 17 stories for National Geographic magazine. A pioneer in multimedia, Kashi has worked in video and film for more than a decade, documenting the social and political issues that define our times. His images have been published and exhibited worldwide, and he has received numerous honors for his work, including the UNICEF Photo of the Year award and a World Press award for his 2011 coverage of the effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam.
661 comments
Alann De Vuyst
Alann De Vuyst

hi,

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? 


Carlos Simões
Carlos Simões

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:

http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/4040529/

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!

S. Tarek
S. Tarek

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? 

Anita Mukherjee
Anita Mukherjee

Hi Friends-Photographers,


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.


http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/profile/336348/


Terry Shapiro
Terry Shapiro

Wow, 775 favorites so far. Won't that be fun to cull down for the story. Time for a new challenge...

todd comer
todd comer

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.

Sugirtha Nagesu
Sugirtha Nagesu

Dear Photographers,


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! 


Thank you.

Ashley Black
Ashley Black

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. :)

Chris B.
Chris B.

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. 

http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/4075837/
http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/4052208/
http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/4009667/

Juan Torres
Juan Torres

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.

Ty Leader
Ty Leader

Here are the two images I used for this assignment. The early morning fly fisherman, while is not a tight shot, I hoped it conveyed the relaxed feeling that every fisherman gets in the early morning while he is alone in the river as the water rushes past him. He patiently waits for his catch and is content even if it never comes. The purple wildflower with it dew drop is also a photo I uploaded for this assignment. Please check them out and leave a comment below. Thanks.


http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/4069286/

http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/4044891/


brad kennedy
brad kennedy

I  want to wish  everyone  the  best of luck .  I do  not    envy   mr.  kashi      the  task    of   trying to pick    out    however many  he  decides   for  final selection. over  19000    entrys  , not my idea   of fun pouring  over that many photos to select just a few

Peter Neve
Peter Neve

Normally I don't do this, I have come across this young photographer that had just basic run of the mill photographs nothing special till I found this one. I think this say it all, we have all felt this way and the way the image has been taken really makes you feel what the girl at the table is feeling.


If you like it please give her your support - http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/1608072/

Adrian Miller
Adrian Miller

@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.

Peter Neve
Peter Neve

@Juan Torres If you read the rules once you have submitted you can remove but not replace. Sorry!

brad kennedy
brad kennedy

@Juan Torres  I have  made same mistake. but  you  are unable you  to change      photo     after  you   submit    3  photo limit


Frank M
Frank M

@Peter Neve If one disregards image quality (in this case it actually helps), my only comment is related to staging - this type of emotion often is only captured with a staged scene and that is what I think when I see this. Nice shot, but a little outside the assignment.  The picture does not 'capture' a feeling, mood, emotion or sense of intimacy when it appears staged.  However, it does present strong emotional feelings as shot.  Regards and Happy Photography!! Please note: I took another look and I really do like the shot.

brad kennedy
brad kennedy

@Peter Neve  I agree  with you bout the  photo.    I  don't  consider my photos  the best but I am   trying to   do better

Peter Neve
Peter Neve

@Frank M I don't think its staged, I think its one of those moment that we all have and wish the day didn't come so soon, I have seen so many people in the same pose after a good night out and having to rise for work at 6am, its amazing how a poorly taken image actually works. I really do think this is a art gallery image. Thanks for your comments Frank its appreciated :-)

Peter Neve
Peter Neve

@brad kennedy @Peter Neve I have just looked at your gallery and you have a nice selection of images, you carry on practising, read also, photography is a skill that you learn, just like an artist, painting, drawing its about presenting an image to the viewer and trying to say 'this is' and then telling a story or presenting something to the world. :-) You carry on the more you learn the better you will become :-)

Peter Neve
Peter Neve

Sometimes Brad you don't have to be the worlds greatest photographer, but its works if you stop using your serious head and use your imaginary head. Look at angles, shooting low, long exposers your camera is like an artists paint box you can do so much. Try mixing images and text, image and grain, photography is more than pointing and shooting. Enjoy and have fun.

More From National Geographic

v