Photographers, especially in people and lifestyle photography, meet many people throughout their careers. As it is in life you like some people more and some less. Usually, there is an imbalance towards the people that you sympathize with, but that does not save you from the people you actually don’t fancy that much. To get around this very human problem, our social toolbox has a little helper: professionalism.
Nevertheless, photographers always find themselves in the situation of finding the right closeness our distance to their opponent. This does not only concern the interpersonal relationship to the model but also the motif-specific distance between lens and model. Adding the focal length of choice, we have three factors that a photographer must have in mind to find the right range. Simply said, they are distance experts.
Encounters or the intersubjective space-time-experience
In terms of interpersonal relationships „Closeness“ and „distance“ are pretty flexible terms. They contain a lot of sensitivity and trust but also skepticism, sometimes even resentment. In a room, approximation and distancing are vivid indicators if an emotional approach works out or if we distance us from our opponent: does the process of interaction work or not?
This is not a numbers thing but a matter of the „right“ measure – a subjective matter – finding the mean between you and me.
Once found, the proper spacing is never defined. Closeness and distance are intersubjective space-time-experiences that can change during an interaction between people. We get closer to each other or fade away into the distance, sometimes wanted and sometimes by chance, from skeptic distance straight into a hearty hug. Somewhere on this scale lies our common comfort zone.
Today we are taking a closer look at one of the two phenoms, though the looking glass, distanced from the opposite pole. „Through a lack of distance, the spark leaps over,“ German poet and writer Erich Limpach once said.
The closer, the better?
Die Sehnsucht nach Nähe und damit Geborgenheit wird uns in die Wiege gelegt. Unsere Entwicklung zum Menschen geht einher mit der Entwicklung des „Urvertrauens“, welches wir im schützenden Mutterleib von Sekunde eins unseres Daseins als empfindendes Wesen an wahrnehmen. Als Neugeborene empfinden wir Nähe als wohltuend. Wir erfahren sie durch alle damit einhergehenden Dinge, wie Wärme und die Ernährung.
The urge for closeness and thereby, safety lies within our nature. Our development as a human being goes hand in hand with the development of the fundamental trust that we experience in the mother’s womb from the first second of our existing as a feeling being. As a new-born, we feel closeness as something pleasant and soothing. We experience it through warmth and nutrition. It is usually a peaceful state with no dangers insight. Later in life, we not only experience this state physically but through spiritual connections with people we love. We develop the ability to be close to people that are thousands of kilometers away by emotional support on hard days, through listening and sharing. It does not always take closeness to be close to each other.
Closeness in visual communications
Interpersonal closeness in our further life course is often a result of encounters, curiosity, and compassion. On the other hand, distance exists from negative influences like rejection, incomprehension, and fear. Distance can be overcome by allowing closeness. Once more, we realize we need to find the right distance to your opponent – speaking photography – the right distance to the model. A picture that seems to be shot from too close can cause discomfort while being far away from the object can cause a lack of emotion.
The right distance between people is an ever-changing adjustment, so much we learned so far. In visual communications, we are a bit more about numbers or at least definitions as for example, we find six different variations of close-ups in filmography: Medium Close Up, Close Up, Extreme Close Up, Lean-In, Lean-Out and Lean. Say hi to Wikipedia for us.
The photography further introduced us to the macro-range. Which exists in film as well. It is mostly used in documentary photography.
Trough macro-photography, we can view objects at a 1:1 ration, a perspective often used to make us see the bigger picture – literally – by looking at the details. This goes very good with our somewhat humanistic approach on the topic of closeness as we often lack a closed lock or the true closeness to see things clearly. Let’s practice a little we thought and put together a Lightbox of close-ups and macro shots where we have to look really closely.