Old Blue, the Heretic posted a comment to the last message, Getting Focused. He is partial to the close-up photo. I especially appreciated his comment, and tend to agree with it, but there is more to the matter, and the long version of my reply deserves its own post.
My first thought was that if I took that picture today I would zoom in on the kids, because that’s where the real story seems to be. I've found that both my writing and my photography have benefited from editing hundreds of family photos spanning more than a century and realizing how poorly composed many of them were.
I took some of those pictures myself. Twenty years ago I snapped a gag photo of our son standing in front of a harbor near Tacoma with his hand held out to catch a rainbow. Only a few years later did I realize that I should have been thirty feet closer to George, filling the viewfinder with him catching the end of the rainbow. That day, I simply pointed and shot and got my mother, a good chunk of the restaurant where we’d eaten, and what looks like half of Puget Sound in the background. The “real picture” occupies around ten percent of the total area. Even with today’s best scanning and enlarging technology, I can’t make a decent print of George larger than 5” x 7”.
These days when I look for my best shot, I ask the same question I do when I begin to write, “Where's the real story here?” In the examples above, the real story seems to be the affection of the children, or my son catching a rainbow. But it isn’t always so. Sometimes the broader scene is the story. It depends on the purpose of your picture.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal