Uses for Macro and Close-Up Photography - dummies

By Thomas Clark

By adding macro and close-up techniques to your repertoire of photographic skills, you can create compelling images in a variety of fields. Whether you’re a professional photographer, an amateur looking to increase your abilities, an entrepreneur with small products to sell, a jewelry designer, a seller on eBay, an artist, or a hobbyist just looking to have some fun, this genre is as enjoyable as it is technical.

A startup business owner may find that he can’t afford professional photography services in the very beginning of his venture. In that case, knowledge and skills in close-up photography can prove useful in advertising, marketing, and branding the business.

If you have a small product or are looking to create a headshot for your bio, then use close-up techniques to ensure people get the message you intended for them to get. If your product is very small, then you’ll want to focus on macro techniques, which maximize how much detail your images reveal.

A professional photographer who has not yet explored macro and close-up techniques will find herself with a whole new bag of tricks. The hobbyist or artist who wants to capture superior detail from tiny subjects, by discovering what macro photography is, how it’s achieved, and how to maximize the sharpness and aesthetic quality of your macro images, may surprise himself with the level of detail you can reveal in a subject.

A biology student or scientist may find herself working with very small subject matter of which she needs detailed photos. Macro photography (or photomacrography, which is the technical term for achieving magnification levels greater than life-size in photography) reveals intimate detail that’s difficult to see with the naked eye.

Forensics photographers sometimes are required to produce life-size representations of evidence to be used in the courtroom. An understanding of macro photography and the tools necessary to achieve it is a must for this type of photographer.

Close-up photography skills enable you to take interesting shots and reveal a proper level of detail for most subjects, but macro photography represents a more scientific approach to photography, that is not useful only as an artistic tool but for making factual statements about a subject.

In many cases, there’s a grey area separating macro and close-up photography. You may choose your composition based on what works best for the subject, without considering whether you’re technically using macro or close-up photography. However, in some cases it helps to know which technique will work best:

  • If your subject is larger than your digital sensor and you wish to fit the entire subject in your frame, then close-up techniques are sufficient. A macro 1:1 ratio would create too much magnification to fit your subject in the frame.

  • If your subject is smaller than your digital sensor and you wish to maximize its size in your frame, then you need macro techniques.

  • Any time you wish to depict a perfect life-size representation of your subject on to your digital sensor, you need macro photography techniques.