I’ve come across this a lot over the years especially when it comes to aviation. Which image is more important? There are many ways to make an image happen. Different angles, lights, backgrounds, foregrounds, etc. There is no one solution but many questions. This question refers to people and capturing the moment that means the most to them while also making the images that can be used for multiple purposes.
I’m going to use by buddy Dan as an example because this was a happy day for him. I don’t really need to say why. In the editorial world the above image is considered the trophy shot or the “fin and grin” shot. It’s very common and while it means a lot to the person in the image, it doesn’t communicate that much outside of Dan being happy.
A close up puts more emphasis on the fish which is important to capture. The fish is just as important to the story as the fisherman is. With aviation the pilot often gets overlooked and it’s just the plane that gets photographed. The plane has the history, it’s really sleek and cool looking, it goes fast, it gets all the glory. The pilot doesn’t. The reverse of this is with biologists. Often times it’s the subject being studied and not the people that are doing all the work that are getting photographed. The point is to really look at all sides of the equation and see what is being photographed and what’s being forgotten.