C&C Tight Head Shots or ??


Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Oct 1, 2010
For most of my photographic life, I have tended quite strongly towards tight head shots. Their strength is their weakness: No context puts complete emphasis on the subject but, well, there is no context. From our last trip to Africa I came away with some typical no-context head shots, like these:

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But I also came home with this one:

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Granted there isn't a lot of context, but the lioness was hiding in the grass and keeping a close eye on us because, the guide said, she had one or two cubs hidden in the grass behind her.

So .. opinions sought: Does this just look like a snapshot that was the best I could do because of the grass? Or do you get a sense of her wariness or implicit threat? Or ?? I can't decide.

(I'm not too interested in technical comments though I'm sure I will get a few.)
Jan 19, 2018
Columbus, Ohio, US
Real Name
I’d say it looks like the best you could do under the circumstances. It’s not a bad shot but I’m guessing your options for changing perspective were limited or non-existent.

If it makes you feel better, I have the same issue with people. I’ve been working on more contextual shots with limited success this week and that’s in situations where I control the perspective and distance so I think it’s fine to cut yourself some slack on this shot.


Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Apr 24, 2018
SF Bay Area, California, USA
I think the peaking out of the grass is implying that she is hiding for a reason; protecting her cubs or to attack a prey.
I like the shot.

BTW, I have the same issue when I shoot sports.
Do I shoot wide to get the play, or tight to get the individual?
I generally prefer the wider play shot, but parents generally want their kid, and don't care about the other players.
I sometimes get neat facials in the tighter individual shots.
So usually, I shoot wide to get the play, then crop tight in post to do the individual. So I get both images, out of one shot.
When I can, I will first shoot wide, then zoom in for a tighter shot.
This is what I used to do when I shot slides, since what I shoot is what gets projected.​


Mu-43 Regular
May 18, 2020
Tighter is not necessarily worse or better. But maybe get out of the habit putting the head in the centre. Like the body might be on the left side so maybe put the head more on the right side. Or their eyes looking to the right side, directing the viewer's attention the right, so maybe put the head more the left side to leave more space on the right for the viewer's eyes to move across the frame. Just think more about what is the most balanced composition. It's not always about putting the main subject in the centre.


Mu-43 All-Pro
Sep 17, 2012
I've zoomed into the grass shot and I think it works better as a tighter shot. To me, it actually increases the sense of hiding when you can clearly see her eyes peering through the grass. That might be because I'm viewing on a 10 inch screen.
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