Posted on January 11, 2011
When taking photos we can make or break our image with the angle we shoot the photo from. Just changing our viewpoint can give a photo a completely different feel. We can help tell a story by choosing a specific perspective, making our image more compelling and interesting to look at. It’s important to remember to move around while shooting to capture unique angles and viewpoints. It can help tell your story more effectively, add a bit of the unexpected and create dynamic compositions.
Sometimes we can get into a rut and always shoot from the same point of view. This project is all about breaking out of any rut we may be in and getting our creative juices flowing. Start exploring what you can come up with by exploring your subjects beyond the same old, predictable perspectives. Walk, crawl, climb around, over and under your subject … find a unique angle that brings out the true spirit of your subject.
Shooting from different angles can also help you find the best background for your subject. Have a very distracting, busy background? Try shooting from below and making the sky your background, or shoot from directly above and fill the frame with your subject.
Here are a few examples of what can be done.
A close crop.
Getting in close to your subject and filling the frame can give an image a powerful and dynamic feeling.
Low to the ground.
This gives a feeling of intimacy and give strength to the image by emphasizing certain elements in the image. This angle is also useful for separating the subject from a busy background and lends the subject a feeling of importance. I happen to especially adore shots shot low to the ground that use a very shallow depth of field … it’s a great way to add interest. My clothes are never, ever clean when I get done shooting because I’m on my belly so much of the time – especially with kiddos.
Another advantage to getting down low is with children it makes them feel more comfortable with you, which results in more natural expressions like this one.
Low angles don’t always have to be on the ground/floor … they can be shot at the level where your subject is sitting, wherever they may be (table, chair, bed, etc.).
Adeline was crawling around on the benches at the bowling alley in this shot … so I just got on my tummy right along with her.
Here I rested my camera down on the table for a low angle view.
Sometimes it can impart much more impact and tell the story so much more powerfully when images are displayed as a series (they don’t call them story boards for nothing … they help tell your story!). This is especially true of action photos. This doesn’t apply to just sports type action, but simple things like a child giggling can be showcased beautifully when the images show the whole range of expressions that accompanied those belly laughs.
I love taking photos of children from above as it tends to give the viewer a clearer sense of just how small and vulnerable a child is. It also happens to be a very flattering viewpoint for adults … there is a reason why I am always badgering my husband to stand up and get higher when taking my photo. LOL!
This image here gives a whole different feel when shot from above … you can just sense the warmth and intamacy in this shot of my daughter cuddling her new baby sis skin to skin.
Shooting looking up at your focus point gives the subject dominance and strength. It’s also a great way to get rid of distracting backgrounds, making the sky your background.
The low angle combined with a fish eye lens gives you a feeling of how large our horse is in comparison to my tiny daughter giving her a smooch.
Again, the low angle really distorts the horses head to make her look looming and huge from below, while my daughter looks teeny up top (and she is indeed teeny when sitting on our 16 hand horse, lol).
A big DON’T.
But remember, getting a unique “angle” does not involve tilting your camera for no reason! i did this a lot in the beginning stages of my photography. It gives the viewer an uneasy feeling, and makes the tilt the first thing you notice, rather than the subject. This is embarrassing, but I thought I’d share a disaster of a photo I took when I was just starting out … so many things wrong with this image, but let’s focus on the awful tilt – ugh! Oh, and the limb chops … always watch your images to make sure you aren’t accidentally chopping off limbs, hands or feet … unless there is a planned reason for it (rules can be broken if you know why you are breaking them). If you do limb chop, say you’re trying to crop to rescue a shot after the fact, them avoid doing so at a joint – don’t crop at elbows, wrists, knees, you get the point./ It’s another one of those things that just tends to not only look bad, but gives the viewer a feeling of being uncomfortable, even though they may not know why.
Here is your challenge … go out and pick a subject, whatever you choose – your kiddo, a bowl of apples, your kitty, a tree, or what have you. Then shoot to your heart’s content … walk around, crawl, lay down, get up on a chair, etc. to get some unique viewpoints of your subject. Try using depth of field to your advantage with some of the unique angles, throwing the subject out of focus and focusing on unexpected things (take a look at the example of my daughter where I focused on her cute little knee sticking out of the blanket … you can just see her bokeh in the background, sleeping soundly). When you feel like you’ve covered it all, stop and go through your images. Take a look at them and figure out which are your top four favorites. Why are they your favorites? How does the different perspective affect your feeling when viewing the image? Which is your very favorite and why?
Post to the Flickr group with your favorite image and why it’s your favorite. Or, if you choose, use this free storyboard template to plug in your favorite four images like I did below and share that instead. Just one Flicker group post for the challenge though and please tag your image ptmviewpoint. Please no old photos … this is about challenging yourself and taking something FRESH! :) Try to have something completed and posted by January 24th.
Now, go shoot and get creative!! Here is my play … had to do it this morning before Adeline woke up, so I selected my little sleeping angel as my subject. As you can see in the last image, little sissy Eliza was already wide awake and wondering what mommy was doing walking around on the bed with the camera in my hands. Incidentally, these were processed with my upcoming action set, Blessings (will be for PSE and PS!!).
And Eliza Junebug Jones peeking up at me thinking, “What the heck is mommy doing crawling around and walking in bed at this hour in the morning??”