Photo Assignments

Photo Assignments #1: Arm's Length

This is an ongoing series on photo assignments from The Photographer's Playbook. Which I highly recommend getting if you're looking for new ways to shoot and think about photography. 

This was Susan Meiselas's, the renowned documentary photographer, assingment. It's inspired from the often used Robert Capa quote. 

If your photographs aren't good enough, you're not close enough.

Meiselas's assignment was to use a lens that could focus at arms length and tape the lens at that focal distance and shoot a roll of film. I ended up using my Nikon FM and pancake 50mm lens which luckily focused at a meter, my arms length. I waited till sunset and left the house. 

This assignment was incredibly fun. Shooting at a short focal length I had to use my legs to focus on the image, I also had to get uncomfortably close to things I would typically shoot from 3-4 extra feet away. Both of these differences made me think a differently about how I approached the shots and how I took the shots. I took more steps toward things and moved in and out of images much slower. After a few shots I got more comfortable and  quickly finished my roll of Fuji Superia 400. 

I'll post the entire roll for these assignments and mark the images I like. Shooting at a short focal length adds a little separation to the image and increases the focus on the subject. There was also the increased amount of detail I found in the images too. Leaves, woodgrain and paint chips aren't my normal subjects but rendered well here. Overall these images have a naturalness I'm always leaning toward but was surprised to find in these closeup conditions.

I need to do this assignment more and found it an overall success. It's a nice way to break out of my normal routine and I was surprised with how many shots I liked. This assignment also doesn't require any extra gear or conditions. You can use the camera you have, tape the lens down to arm's length and go have fun.