{Mentor Monday} To Zoom, or not to Zoom?

When I got my first point-and-shoot well over a decade ago, "Zooming" had only one function. Are all of my friends in the photo? No? Better zoom out then! 

Raise your hand if this is you. (Or, for those of you reading this between answering work emails, nod silently so your coworkers don't think you're a loon!)

o worries. This ends today!

Zooming is an important compositional tool. Embrace it. Use it. Here's how:

OOM IN... to control the viewer's focus.

I'm willing to bet a majority of you have used this tactic on your facebook rofile pictures. You friend posted a GREAT picture of you at last weekend's BBQ. Unfortunately, your friend's dog is in the background "watering" their garden. Your fix? Crrrrrrop!

Now all that the viewing public sees is you rocking that trendy gingham dress with umbrella-dress in hand. Success! 

For mentoring purposes, it's my duty to encourage you to recognize these distractions in the picture-taking moment, and zoom in to avoid them if necessary. (Starting to sound familiar??)

"Why? Can't I crop out distractions in editing and do the same thing?"

I'm so glad you asked! It absolutely does NOT do the same thing. Eliminating distractions "in camera" gives you FAR MORE creative control over the resulting image. Thus why I describe the zoom as a compositional tool! 

Suddenly, when you zoom in to remove Fido's indiscretion from the frame, you notice there's some great leading lines behind your subject. Or maybe you're inspired to place your subject according to the rule of thirds. You may be surprised what pictures you come up with!

I will neither confirm nor deny that my daughter was in the background eating grass. And thanks to an artful crop, you all will never know!

I will neither confirm nor deny that my daughter was in the background eating grass. And thanks to an artful crop, you all will never know!

ZOOM OUT... to tell the whole story.

It's easy to get bit zoom-happy - particularly in photos of people. We want to see that big grin, capture that sparkle in the eyes, and when we zoom out we lose a lot of that detail.

But in your quest for the perfect portrait, don't forget to show your viewer the "Big Picture!" 

Sure, I've got a portrait capturing K's expression of awe...

Sure, I've got a portrait capturing K's expression of awe...

... but unless I zoom out, you'd have no idea it's because my yard was of bubbles! 

... but unless I zoom out, you'd have no idea it's because my yard was of bubbles! 

DO BOTH!

When in doubt - try taking the same photo both ways (zoomed in and zoomed out). You'll wind up with a great variety of images that each tell different parts of the same story. (And by now, you're using your photos to tell a story, right??)