Macro Photography: The Best Guide For 2021

Nowadays, taking shots of small subjects and tiny details become a big part of photography. Since the features of cameras have improved drastically, even as a beginner, you can capture lovely macro photos. Small animals, insects, plants, and objects may seem challenging to pose, but once you start practicing this style of photography, you may never stop.

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”

Aaron Siskind
photography concept - macro photography
Photography concept

Before capturing the most pleasing macro shots, there are a few things you’ll need to learn. That includes the best camera, the ideal lens, the settings needed for taking macro photographs, and techniques for taking macro photos. Once you have achieved these goals, you are ready to get to know the tiny creatures and plants that are the stars of macro. Let’s explore the details of this world.

Table of contents
What is macro photography?
What is magnification?
Best cameras and lenses for macro photography
Camera settings for macro photography
Macro photography ideas
What’s next?
Key takeaways

What is macro photography?

Macro photography is a remarkable genre of photography that involves taking close-ups of small objects and making them look larger than life. This style of photography has become more popular since photographers started to pay more attention to details and to get creative with small objects and simplicity. You can take these close-ups outdoor or in your home studio as long as you maximize the size of your subject.

macro photography
New life – macro photography

Many of you may be wondering if macro and close-ups are the same. Both styles make small items look larger or bigger, but they are different when it comes to the type of lens you use. If you use a non-macro lens, your small subject will look larger. However, a macro lens not only will make the model bigger, but it will also highlight the minuscule points.

macro photography
Funny australian white tree frog look like gymnastics on branch

But what about the terms macro and micro? Although in literature, they are two opposite terms, in photography, they are used to define the same thing — magnify the subject. Getting here, a new term made its entry – magnify. Well, let’s see what magnification is in photography.

What is magnification?

Magnification is the comparison between the subject’s size and how large or small it appears on your camera sensor. If you want to take great macro shots, you should pay attention to the magnification level.

macro photography
Color ink close-up

To get the ideal level of magnification and life-size subjects, you need to have the ratio 1:1. Moreover, if you want to get a half life-size, use a 1:1 magnification. As shocking as it may seem, some lenses let you shoot at 1:5 magnification. 

Best cameras and lenses for macro photography

Lately, macro cameras have become more professional, and their features have improved significantly. They have a system that allows inexperienced photographers to shoot insects immediately, without modifying setups. What I advise you is to find the perfect lens for this kind of photography. Taking the most impressive macro pictures depends on the lens that you attach to your camera.

The following is a list of camera bodies and lenses that are perfect combinations for macro photography.

macro photography
Macro picture of vintage camera
  1. Canon EOS 5D MkIV – full-frame DSLR camera, 30 MP CMOS sensor, touch-sensitive LCD, responsive user interface.
  1. Nikon D850 – full-frame DSLR camera, high resolution of 47 MP, remarkable dynamic range.
  1. Nikon D500 – crop-sensor DSLR, 21 MP sensor, dedicated buttons for many functions, exceptional image quality.

Camera settings for macro photography

Aperture is the first setting you need to adjust to let the light come into the camera’s sensor and create a very minimal depth-of-field. But what aperture should you use for macro photography? Well, it depends on the source of light if it is natural or artificial. It also depends on the brand of the camera, the size of the camera sensor, and the focusing distance to your subject. Feel free to experiment with the aperture, also known as your f-stop.

macro photography
A macro photography shot of a piece of cut wood on blurred background

Depth-of-field is pretty tricky to get when it comes to macro photography. That’s why you should use a flash unless you use wide apertures. Using a flash also helps you to reduce motion blur from your camera or your subject. So, if you want to take breathtaking macro pictures, a flash in combination with manual mode will make the magic happen.

macro photography
A putnam jumping spider (Phidippus putnami) resting on a euphorbia houseplant.

However, if you don’t use flash, shutter speed will help you get rid of blur from camera shake and subject motion. In this case, the light is pretty important, so, to get more lighting in your pictures, you also have to adjust ISO. However, using a flash and gaining clarity in images, you will no longer need to adjust shutter speed. Camera settings are essential in macro photography. That’s why I advise you to practice as long as your eyes can stay focused, try various macro photography techniques, and adjust settings to take the most splendid macro photographs.

Macro photography ideas

Fiding the right subject and getting creative with textures, colors may be the hardest part. Many photographers think that macro photography is about shooting flowers, insects, and little creatures. Indeed, it is. But it is more than that. If you want to create interesting macro images, you have to let your imagination run wild and observe little details around you. You have more subjects to photograph than you would think.


macro photography
Close up of blue orange human eye

As it is said, the eyes never live. So, you better take some great pictures with them. If you want to capture some textures and contrasting colors, the eyes are the perfect match. Their patterns and colors speak loudly and express emotions more than a full-body will do that. Some of them are blue, some of them are black or brown, and some are green. So, what color do you choose, and what story do you want to tell?


macro photography
Beautiful vivid shiny green grass with water droplets close-up

Imagine those bubbles that are in the drinks. They seem insignificant, and nobody pays attention to them. Well, take advantage of macro photography techniques and magnify these subjects. Carbonated water or sodas will help you improve your skills and sell outstanding macro pictures. How about soap bubbles? Or water droplets.


macro photography
Orange flower of calendula with dew

As every photographer knows, flowers are the finest subjects you can shoot. Even if it’s about macro photos or any other genre of photography. They are graceful, full of textures and colors. You can take advantage of a wide range of flowers and shoot various macro perspectives. I bet your followers will smell the flowers through the pictures you took.


macro photography
Close up of a beautifull dragonfly in nature

Yes, they might be fast and hard to pose but find the perfect moment to catch them while they are not moving. Or practice when the insects are in motion. You never know what you can get out of it. Moreover, you can turn these tiny creatures into massive beasts once you get your proper equipment and right skills.


macro photography
Broken glass pile pieces of texture and background isolated on white

As in food photography or minimalist photography, textures are the most versatile domains to shoot impressive macro pictures. They come in many colors, shapes, sizes, and you can modify some of them according to your preferences. It all depends on your vision and creativity. You just have to get closer and closer. 

What’s next?

Well, the fun part is not over. While there are a lot of things to remember, I’m pretty sure you will do a great job. So, once you practiced all these tips, it is time to create your online portfolio and let people know what you are capable of. Start promoting your work and selling photography prints to grow your photography business. 

macro photography portfolio
Create an online portfolio

There are many ways of making money with your photographs, and macro photography will definitely help you reach this goal. You can start working as an assistant or becoming a successful freelancer by practicing this art. Whatever your choice is, you first have to show off your best pieces of work to get the best deals knocking on your door.

Key takeaways

macro photography key takeaways
Key takeaways
  • Macro photography means taking close-ups of small pieces that live in this world and make them look larger than life.
  • Both macro and close-up styles make small items look larger, but they are different when it comes to the type of lens you use.
  • In photography, the terms macro and micro are used to define the same thing – magnify the subject.
  • The ideal magnification is at 1:1 (1- inch the subject’s size and 1- inch how large or small appear your subject on the camera sensor).
  • Find the perfect lens for macro photography.
  • Modify the aperture to create a very minimal depth-of-field.
  • An automatic flash in combination with manual mode will help you get rid of motion blur.
  • Adjust shutter speed to prevent blur from camera shake and subject motion.
  • Use ISO that results in good exposure and gives more light to your pictures.
  • Practice as long as your eyes can stay focused, try macro photography techniques, and adjust your camera settings.
  • Create a stunning portfolio, start growing your photography business, and selling photography prints.
  • Let your imagination run wild and observe the little details around you.
  • If you want to capture some textures and contrasting colors, the eyes are the perfect match.
  • Get creative with bubbles from carbonated water and soap bubbles.
  • You can also work with water droplets.
  • You can take advantage of a wide range of flowers and shoot various macro perspectives.
  • Pose insects in motion or while they are standing and turn those little creatures in huge beasts.
  • The closer you get, the more you will highlight the beauty of the textures.

Final thoughts

Macro photography is a genre of photography that is accessible to everyone. It can be challenging, but once you succeed and shoot the tiniest creatures, you’ll be delighted with your masterpieces. With practice, you will improve your skills, and you will advance from a beginner photographer to a professional. Get creative with perspectives, angles, subjects, and always be ready to shoot some stunning pictures.

Andreea Popa

Andreea is a blog manager at WPChill who spends most of her days writing and "polishing" articles. When she isn't writing, she's in the heart of the mountains, looking for peace and inspiration.

2 thoughts on “Macro Photography: The Best Guide For 2021”

  1. What are other options than macro lenses for macro photography, this will help to give complete details of macro photography.

    • If your budget is around 1 lakh + then go for canon 100 mm macro lens. But there are some cheaper alternatives 1. Extension tubes 2. Reverse rings


Leave a Comment