Whether novelist, journalist, historian, or ethnographic observer making documentary records, the importance of putting a subject in its frame makes sense – not only what is physically adjacent, but also what comes before and after in chronology, and also relationally – what the main subject is connected to closely and more distantly.
Failing to include surrounding conditions in the picture that is conjured or captured not only excludes rich detail, but also the meanings that touch on the subject being featured or spotlighted will be out of sight. Looking again at the same scene taken in wider view reveals a lot more of the day and the moment of shutter release.
One of the magical things about using software to stitch 2 or 3 frames together is seeing the composite being generated; reminiscent of darkroom experiences watching the image appear on the photo paper emulsion. But the main source of amazement is the finished scene. It is a similar visual experience to the almost 180 degree field of view that a person with two eyes is familiar with. See this handful of slides to illustrate this similarity in more detail, bit.ly/seepano. A main subject fits naturally into its surrounding context of shape, color, meaning, and relationship. And so, while there are lots of appealing subjects that can be fragmented from the larger scene, only the wide views can give a full visual feast. By extension from the world of lens, composition, and exposure to the world of social and cultural interaction in one’s lifetime, perhaps the same thing is true; that the wide perspective helps to show the significance of a subject being considered.