Lucky Sparrows


When a photo is worth a thousand words, but you’re a little long winded…

How Photographing Bugs Makes Me a Better Portrait Photographer

I’m a firm believer in taking as many pictures as you can, as often as you can. This idea has become something more than just a motto or guideline for me, and ascended into something of an obsession.

If I’m not working a wedding or out doing a portrait session the odds are that, more than likely, you can find me outside in the yard of the place we call home looking for a new picture to take.

Typically two to three days a week minimum I’m outside with various lenses, adapters, lights, and whatever else I can carry at the time scouting around in the grass, trees, and dirt surrounding the house. I often hear other photographers looking forward to a new location or time to photograph because they’ve creatively dried up the area they’re used to. For me, that’s my “why” for macro images.

The wonderful world of macro really fascinates me. Despite the limitations we place on ourselves as photographers or the mindset of “I don’t have anything to photograph without going to “x” place” macro takes that world and multiplies the size of it by ten thousand. Now your yard is a galaxy in comparison, and it’s overflowing with life and adventure. So much is happening within a five foot by five foot area that on a day to day basis we would totally overlook!

With all the things I do though, I like them to be connected, to promote growth in each other area of what I do.

Macro photography isn’t simply taking pictures of bugs and plants, it’s actually a continual sharpening of skills, of editing and post-production workflows, of manually focusing and tracking quick subjects to get that perfect frame.

This kind of attention to detail, and even the manual focus learning, has been beneficial even in our wedding work, allowing me to utilize some really cool vintage glass during portraits and events that otherwise would just be shelved and left to collect dust. Macro and manual focus lenses both are a slower process, and teach me to be more patient when looking for my next picture. Sizing up the situation, looking from different angles, managing light, all to make a image interesting that otherwise may have been left on the table of thought.

Macro forces you to expand the way you view an image, and how to frame it.

Macro makes you look for details that otherwise might have been overlooked, and compose images to tell a story with very little in the way of surrounding context, not to mention it’s just really enjoyable using a camera and getting back to the roots of just enjoying the craft. Farmville Virginia may only be about eight miles in area, and our yard just a fraction of that, but in every small space there is a large story.

Michael Reynolds