Photographers – don’t forget your feet!

Tug-o-war · The fun of the game is recreated by the close-to-distance balance - Use your feet to get the right position.

• Tug-o-war •
The fun of the game is recreated by the close-to-distance balance. Use your feet to move in close allows a large subject but a wide scene.
Click image to view large
Tug-o-war · By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

Your zoom can’t do everything.

When you zoom into a shot you do get the close-up. Getting in close is important right? Well, yes, but you don’t always want to fill the frame with the subject. In this tip we look at another way to approach the shot. Use your feet to get the right position, not your zoom.

When you have an expensive and fun zoom lens you want to use it to the fullest extent. Most beginners go for a zoom because it gives them a flexibility that a prime lens does not. But then again, having that flexible zoom makes most photographers forget that they have feet!

What! Forget my feet? Ridiculous. OK, I am being flippant. But how many of you reading this would be inclined to stand off to one side in one position. Then using your zoom lens just take all the shots from where you stand? If you are a recent starter at serious photography I am willing to bet you will be taking a back seat and doing lots of zooming. What you are doing is waving aside a lot of composition opportunities. I urge you to stop zooming and use your feet.

If we don’t zoom in – what then?

Remember, when you zoom into a subject you are making the object of your focus bigger. Getting closer yes, but also you are narrowing the field of view – cutting out the background. That is the thing about zoom lenses. They get you in close to fill the frame.

What you might consider some times is to open up the zoom, go wide. And, instead of zooming into your subject walk up to it instead. Yup! Use your feet.

Use your feet to get into the shot

What this magical walking stuff will do is make your subject large, but allow you to retain a big chunk of the background at the same time. Wow! This gives you a great new perspective. Look at my picture above. I walked out of the crowd and got close to the team members. This gave me a nice big foreground object. Then looking down the line I get superb perspective as the line diminishes.

Composition is not about framing everything from one spot

When you are framing the shot consider doing it from a number of different places. Working the scene is about being dynamic and trying out all the angles. Walking into the scene and getting a close-up with your zoom wide open creates a great opportunity to develop perspective. On the other hand going really narrow and walking out of the scene gives you more context for you to select only those parts of the scene you want to show in your image. Walk in, walk out – use your feet to get you an advantage.

The zoom gives you half a story. Taking it for a walk around the scene is the other half. Use your feet to good effect and you will get more great shots than you would just using a zoom.

2 responses to “Photographers – don’t forget your feet!

  1. Jose A De Leon

    One of my favorite photographers is Jay Maisel. I have both Scott Kelbys seminars where he and Scott walk together around the neighborhoods of NY and I remember a conversation between them sitting on a park bench. Scott and Jay are looking at a basketball court and something in the composition of the shadows projected by the basketball backboard caught Jay’s eye. Scott reaches for his zoom lens and Jay tells him: “sometimes the best zoom lens is your feet”. That thought stuck with me till this day. Sometimes nothing beats just getting real close to your subject, unless of course it’s a 1000 pound grizzly bear.

    Best regards,
    Jose