Don't get so caught up in the big picture that you fail to notice the small details that can say so much about a culture. Close-ups give you an opportunity to explore colours, textures and abstract shapes, or to home in on something that's unusual or funny.
Unless your subject is very small, a dedicated true macro lens isn't essential but you will need one that offers reasonably close focusing to around a quarter lifesize.
Where to Find Them
Markets are an ideal place to find interesting details, whether it be food or trinkets. It's best to ask the permission of the stall holder before pointing your camera at their goods, and in some cases a small token payment may be a welcome gesture. Keep your eyes peeled for street signs and shop windows too. Early morning and late afternoon light casts oblique shadows on subjects, which can often reveal interesting textures that aren't visible in the middle of the day.
Table for two, La Guarida restaurant, Havana, Cuba. By Deb Hillerby, UK.
Focusing can be tricky at close range and your depth of field will be reduced. This can sometimes be good for isolating your subject from the clutter around it, but in some cases it may not be enough for your needs so you'll have to stop down the aperture. Be careful that your shutter speed doesn't fall too low for handholding. If necessary, raise the ISO. A monopod can be ideal to grab shots at slowish shutter speeds, giving you a couple of extra stops of safe speeds to play with.
Homeless man, with hands stained by huffing paint thinner. By Taylor Weidman, USA.