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At AWAI’s live photography workshops, professional photographer Rich Wagner and I are always telling the attendees to get closer to whatever it is they’re photographing.

“Fill the frame with your subject,” we say and what we mean is: If your viewfinder is a frame, you should fill it with more of your subject and with less empty space or distracting background.

Often, this tip improves an attendee’s photographs. But sometimes, if they’re not careful, it ruins them. Here’s what I mean…

A few weeks ago, I sent you a tip on photographing people and I cautioned against cropping a person at their joints. Crops on joints are distracting. (Click here for examples.)

And just like cropping on joints is distracting, so is clipping off just a small piece of something. And that sometimes happens when you get in TOO close to your subject.

Take, for instance, these two photographs from this month’s challenge…

Both of these photos are basically well composed, except for one factor — the back end of the man’s hat and the tip of the kitten’s ear have both been clipped off.

And the truth is, this happens all the time (for instance, I saw a bunch of clipped bike tires ruin some otherwise impressive shots representing last month’s theme).

My point is: Getting in close to your subject is a good idea. Most often, it’ll improve your photograph tremendously. But when you do, be sure to look edge to edge, corner to corner, and all around your frame.

Make sure you keep in everything you want and everything that is important to your subject and eliminate everything that is not.

And when you do clip, make sure it’s intentional. A kitten’s ear that is meant to be chopped is far less distracting than an unintentional clip

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]

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