What Is Macro Photography? - dummies

By Thomas Clark

The term macro photography has come to mean many things through time, such as very close-up images, life-size representations of subjects, or photography of magnified subjects.

In reality, macro means something very specific and relates to only a small percentage of the ideas associated with it. Macro-specific gear tends to be expensive, so many manufacturers have produced inferior products tagged macro simply to increase the size of the market.


Life presents us with a multitude of potential photographic subjects. Some of them are grandiose and present themselves to you in a blatant way. Others are smaller and a little more difficult to discover; but some subjects can be so small, you may not recognize their potential when it’s right under your nose.

By paying attention to the smaller details in life, you can open the door to a whole new realm of photography: One that presents photographic scenes equally as intricate as the grandiose, only smaller in scale.

If you’re interested in exploring the complex details of the tiny world, looking for a new hobby, or trying to broaden your photographic abilities, learning the macro photography process will be rewarding and interesting.

By learning the ins and outs, you can know the difference between what’s truly macro photography and what’s not, which will help you make informed decisions when purchasing gear and producing images. Educate yourself on what a true macro photograph is, what has been twisted and referred to as macro photography for the general consumer market, and the technical factors involved.

True macro photography, or a 1:1 ratio, captures a life-size depiction of a subject on the camera’s digital sensor. A 1:4 ratio provides a life-size representation of the subject when printed at the typical size of 4×6 inches.