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Tighten your shot to get that purrrfect dramatic impact!

How would you like to significantly increase the dramatic impact of your photography? If there is one photographic technique that can put your images on steroids, it’s shooting tight.

By shooting tight, I’m referring to zooming in on your subject so that you remove distracting elements and instead highlight its most salient feature(s). Take the elephant image below as an example. I shot it on one of the photo trips I led. In and of itself the photo is ‘okay.’ It’s a textbook example of an elephant, and therein lies the problem. Like a textbook, it is b-o-r-i-n-g. It would be fine for a biology text, but it lacks punch. Zero drama.


Now take a look at this image of an African elephant, shot during the same trip. See the difference? Notice the emotional impact? Does anyone not recognize it for what it is? Does one need a shot of the entire animal to make a point? Note the emotional impact, the heightened drama contained within the tight head shot.


This very same concept of shooting tight holds true for plants, buildings, landscapes and more. Decide what aspects of the scene, of the story, you want to convey and then vision the scene reduced to its most basic elements. You’ll be surprised at how that often will improve the drama of the scene.

I especially like shooting tight when touring Europe and the Middle East. Most of my clients initially shoot street scenes by encompassing an entire street or alleyway. But, by shooting tight, they understand how much more dramatically they can ramp up a scene. These scenes taken in Sicily and on the Egadi Islands are examples of shooting street scenes tightly.


Finally, shooting tight works wonders for people shots, but I’ll leave that topic for another day.

Have any tips for shooting tight? Let us know in the comments.


The Author

Lester Picker

Lester Picker

Les Picker is a professional landscape, wildlife and award-winning travel photographer, and a Moab Master photographer for Moab Fine Art Papers.