Macro photography brings out the beauty of details. It can transform everyday subjects into fascinating works of art, overlooked by the naked eye. And this beauty is open for any kind of photographer to capture. You don’t need to be a professional photographer or have years of experience. All you need is a good macro lens and some practice.
Of course, reading a quick tutorial can help ease your learning process. Here’s a brief introduction to macro photography, which will give you all the foundational knowledge you need to get started.
Other than familiarizing yourself with the technique, it helps to choose interesting subjects to begin with. A lot of subjects work well with macro photography, but some look especially beautiful and are therefore popular among macro photographers. Here are some excellent subjects to start off with.
Great Subjects for Macro Photography
We’ve narrowed down the top 5 subjects for macro images, in no particular order. Jump down to the subject that interests you or scroll through them all for a wave of macro inspiration!
Flowers are such a popular subject in general that it can be hard to find a unique angle or perspective that’s different from the rest. Macro photography can give you that uniqueness while also highlighting the flower’s beauty.
Taking a close-up of a flower can really bring out its vibrant color and graceful shape. As long as you keep the background plain and minimal (or omit it entirely), there will be no distractions, so the viewer can focus on appreciating the flower’s details.
Steven Scott – White Yellow Blue
Steven Scott – Shades of red and pink
Steven Scott – Yellow Petals Dark center
Steven Scott – Calla Lily Edge
Steven Scott – Imperfect Beauty
Steven Scott – Yellow and Purple :-)
Water Drops (Dew, Rain, Etc.)
Depending on the level of difficulty you’re ready for, you can either photograph a still or moving water drop. Shooting dripping or splashing water takes some patience and knowledge of high speed photography, but getting that final, sharp image can feel enormously satisfying.
If you’re not quite up to that challenge, though, you can get impressive results with still water drops, too. Think of dew, fallen rain drops, or even a drip of tap water. (Or snow flakes, if you want a different kind of challenge.)
Most macro photos of water drops make them the main subject, but you can also use water drops to complement another subject. For instance, you can photograph a dandelion seed surrounded by fallen rain. These tiny water drops provide a sense of scale and add interest to the image while keeping the composition simple.
Alex Greenshpun – Dancing in the Rain
Valentino Tombesi – orme // footmarks
Martin Cook – Droplets of colour
grazynaphotography – after rain…
Alex Greenshpun – Tears of a Phoenix
Alex Greenshpun – Morning Fantasy
Alex Greenshpun – Why I Wake Early
Insects, Spiders, and Snails
If you hate insects or spiders, you might want to skip this section and head down to the next one.
But if you don’t mind spending time with ants, ladybugs, spiders, and other bugs, you can get incredible images of their tiny world. Insects are one of the top subjects for macro photographers. Yet even with countless close-up images of them, the subject hasn’t gotten old.
That might be because there’s so much variety. There are over a million types of insects, spiders, and snails out there, so you can shoot a thousand different insects and still have thousands more to photograph. Each one will have unique details that are revealed in a macro shot.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go far to find new species. Your neighborhood alone may have dozens of insect species you haven’t yet photographed!
Sandrine Néel – La liberté n’est pas l’absence d’obstacle mais la possibilité de s’y confronter
Amine Fassi – Syrphe – The Baby Model
Fred Veenkamp – Itsy Bitsy Spider
Alex Greenshpun – Round and Round
Martin Cooper – Soldierfly forehead
Food is a good subject to start with if you don’t have a macro lens yet. It allows you to experiment with some of the techniques of macro photography without needing to get insect-level close. For instance, even without a macro lens, you’ll need to find the right amount of background blur to bring out the details of your subject.
Food is also an easy to subject to find, though certain types of food are more well-suited for macro images than others. Berries are an excellent choice due to their small size, vibrant color, and beautiful shape. Anything with details you could explore, like chopped nuts or pearl sugar, can work great, too.
Laurens Kaldeway – Fizzy Grapefruit
Arnaud DAVID – Ronce bleuâtre (Rubus Caesius)
While outdoor subjects like insects and flowers tend to be popular among macro photographers, you don’t need to go outside to find brilliant macro subjects. A quick look around your home can turn up a handful of cool subjects for close-ups. From bead necklaces to cutlery in the kitchen, you can create dozens of eye-catching photos without leaving the house.
jordan parks – evening approaches
j.towbin © – Wearable Art: One Mesh Bead
Ralf St. – Macro Mondays | Plastic
Karen White – striped spoons 12/30
Juan Ramón Martos – Through the eye of a needle
Many of the photos above were selected from our talented Flickr group.