Macro Photography: Slow down to create impact & emotion

We live in a fast-paced world, often hurrying from one place to another, one activity to another. Being in nature and wild places affords us an opportunity to take a deep breath, slow down and take in the beauty of our surroundings. The therapeutic and healing benefits of immersing ourselves in nature have long been studied and confirmed. Being in nature calms our over-stressed brains and puts us in a more joyful and reflective state. This is a feeling I could identify even as a child. My love of macro photography grew out of a life-long love of looking at the world up-close, a fascination that began early in childhood and was a product, I believe, of an unhurried childhood. Photographing the world up-close, the details of nature that often go unnoticed, has become my personal passion.

Close up of a Tulip taken with 100mm Macro Lens

Tulip with an Attitude – 100mm Macro Lens

How many times have we heard the advice “slow down, study your subjects, take time to practice the art of seeing?” How many of you actually practice this more contemplative way of photography, however?

I found that when I started heeding my own advice, my work changed dramatically. I began to find more interesting subjects and started to produce more impactful and emotive work. I began to connect more with my subjects and be more present in the moment. Slowing down is imperative to unleashing creative ideas and approaches. Creativity takes time and can’t be rushed; it often emerges from those quiet moments. When we take more time to reflect, to play and experiment with an interesting subject, discovery and creativity will follow.

Macro Photography example captured with Lens Baby's Velvet 85mm

Tender Touch, – Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Finding interesting subjects is a bit like a scavenger hunt, but one in which you can take your time. Train your eye to notice details, look for interesting lines, sensuous curves, patterns and textures. These more abstract elements can become subjects in their own right. Look for subjects with character or a bit of personality, a story to tell. To find these interesting subjects you must look closely and carefully. My advice to those I work with is to put your camera (and your phone) away and take time to walk slowly and observe all that is around you. What catches you eye, what piques your interest, how does it make you feel? Your view of the world is unique to you and when you take this time to reflect, your work will reflect more of your inner self. If we hurry from subject to subject, trying to get “the shot,” we do nothing but document. Creating art, investing vision and emotion into our work lets creativity flow and we begin to produce work with meaning and impact.

Macro Photography with Lens Baby's 85mm

Tiny Dancer – Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Many of my ideas about photography come from my background as an art therapist. When working with clients in art therapy, I helped them reveal much about their emotions and inner self through their art work. The process of creating art is just as important and healing as the end product. Photography as art is no different. Our subject matter can reveal much about our inner selves and I firmly believe that the process of creating our photographs is as important as the final image we put out into the world. If we invest ourselves in that process, stay present in the moment, and begin to recognize how that process feels for us, our work will be stronger and our experience richer.

Macro Photo of a Rose taken with Lensbaby Composer Pro II

Sensuous Curves of the Rose – Lensbaby Composer Pro II with Sweet 80 Optic

This way of approaching our subject matter is important for all genres of photography. It can be applied to landscape, cityscape or any kind of photography. Next time you go out with your camera, keep it in your backpack for a bit and spend some time looking and studying your subjects. Stay present in the process and think about how your subjects make you feel.

Fern photo captured with 100mm Macro Lens

Dancing with Joyful Abandon – 100mm Macro Lens


My guess is that you will enjoy your photography on a deeper level and will begin to produce work with impact and emotion. Maybe, just maybe, this will bring added joy to your macro photography.

GET STARTED IN MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY
Check out the following tutorials on Visual Wilderness:

  • Details & Macro Photography Tutorial Cover

    Details & Macro Photography Tutorial

  • Macro Photography Lenses Cover

    Macro Photography Lenses

About Author Anne Belmont

As a nature photographer specializing in flower photography, Anne’s passion lies in capturing the beauty of flowers and other botanical subjects up-close. It is the small, often unnoticed details that draw Anne to her subjects. It is her belief that if we slow down and look at nature in a more contemplative way, we will find subjects that convey impact and emotion, causing the eye to linger a little longer. A life-long involvement in the arts and a first career as an art therapist have shaped the way that she views art and the creative process and have reinforced her belief in the healing power of both art and nature in our lives.