Perspective in Photography: 4 Vantage Points for Unique Compositions

Perspective in Photography: 4 Vantage Points for Unique Compositions

perspective in photography: 4 different vantage points to try

As photographers, we regularly fall into the bad habit of shooting everything we see from eye level.

We all walk around, something catches our attention, and we take an image – right from where we are standing, without bending straight down, moving to the side, getting up high, etc .

(Sound familiar? )

But if you want to make stunning, eye-catching, original compositions , you need to get free from your eye-level (or tripod-level) rut. You need a change in perspective.

Plus that’s what this article is about. I’m going to give you various easy tips for working with viewpoint in photography. By the time you are done, you’ll be ready in order to bend, climb, move, and contort like a pro.

Let’s get started.

1 . Get low

The easiest way to change your perspective for spectacular impact?

Get down lower .

I personally use this all of the time in my own photos, and it is a favorite trick of many professional shooters. A low angle gifts the world from a completely different viewpoint, one where the viewer seems small and the rest of the world looms large:

wide-angle leaves from low down perspective

So get your digital camera down toward ground level, and find out how it impacts your perspective. Don’t be afraid in order to lie flat in the grass, soil, or mud; you may get dirty, but it’ll be worth it!

Furthermore, quick tip: Getting lower low allows you to emphasize the particular foreground of your composition. You can use a wide-angle lens to feature foreground elements, which will then pull the viewer right into the image. Take one more look at the shot above; would you see how the leaves behave as a foreground anchor, leading the viewer into the image and toward the background forest?

A low perspective can also change the way your own viewer feels about or even reacts to your subject. Obtaining low can make your subject matter appear taller or more imposing. Subjects viewed from beneath can look commanding and powerful. Even a simple sunflower can seem to tower over its surroundings:

sunflower close-up

Plus, a low position can completely disorient your own viewer. This near water-level shot (below) becomes a research in color and structure, as the water and the dropped autumn leaves interact with one another. From eye level, this could simply have been a photograph searching down into a storm gutter. But getting low made easier the composition, providing the viewer with a startlingly unique perspective.

leaves in the gutter

2 . Get up high (and shoot downward)

Shooting from up high does the opposite of having down low. Instead of making the viewer feel small and the subject loom large, a high perspective makes the viewer feel huge and the subject matter look tiny:

tourists looking at an iceberg from a ship

Notice how the high vantage point gives the photo a sort of “giant looking down into a toy world” viewpoint? Photographers love to use this position when shooting objects which are actually very large (e. g., mountains, icebergs, trees). Celebrate an interesting juxtaposition between what the viewer believes about the subject matter (i. e., that it’s huge ) and what the viewer actually sees (i. electronic., it’s tiny).

Getting up high is also the best way to emphasize geometry – the particular lines , circles, squares, and dots that make up the scene. When your subject is very graphic, with lots of obvious lines plus curves, try a high vantage point; it’ll likely work nicely.

Unfortunately, a high perspective comes with a major issue:

Getting above a subject is not really an easy task. It often requires a lot of creativity, and there are times when it just won’t work. Here are a few methods of getting out of bed high (but be mindful of the particular appropriateness of each method given the situation):

  • Climb stairs
  • Climb on a roof
  • Shoot from a window
  • Shoot from atop a parking garage
  • Make use of a drone
  • Hold your camera as high as feasible

Obviously, some high perspectives are usually easier to manage than others. If you want to shoot from above the building, you’ll probably require a parking garage or a drone – but if you want to capture a flower from above, you just need to stand tall and point your camera downward.

Make sense?

3. Shoot upward

This particular perspective is similar to getting reduced, as discussed above – except rather than shooting directly at your subject from the floor, you shoot up . It’ll focus on the height of your issue and can often evoke a sense of wonder and awe:

looking up at trees low perspective

The traditional “up high” subject is definitely trees, but you can shoot upwards at plenty of subjects, including:

  • Parrots
  • Planes
  • Architecture
  • Clouds
  • Flowers
  • Power ranges

Remember that some of these suggested subjects aren’t actually tall; instead, you just have to creatively work your own angles by getting upon the ground and pointing your own camera upward.

Pro tip: If you are planning to shoot a lot of photos from below, bring a camera with a tilting display. Constantly shooting upward may really hurt your throat – so a slanting LCD will prevent lots of pain.

4. Go for the lateral

Low angles plus high vantage points can be awestriking, but don’t forget to consider laterally, too.

In other words: Before hitting the shutter button, walk a few steps to the right and left. It may not appear to be a big deal, but a few feet can make a huge difference to the final photo. For one, you’ll get a different view of your subject matter. You’ll also get a different foreground and a different background, both of which can make or split a composition.

Personally, the first view as well as the first angle I try is often not the best offered. It takes a bit of work – moving right and left, trying out different foregrounds and backgrounds – before I get the photo I want. Sometimes, it even pays to walk completely around the subject (and you can take a few test shots along the way). That’s what I did for this shot of the Chi town skyline:

Chicago skyline at night with fountain

I also positioned the aerosol from the fountain directly before a building to make it more visible. You see, in addition to transforming the foreground and background, moving your feet can change the way different objects in your picture interact with each other.

Take a look at the two shots below. While the top picture looks nice, moving just a couple of feet to the right plus squatting down allowed me to feature the downroad lights with the actual Capitol building in the background. This particular juxtaposition of elements enhanced the storytelling ability of the photograph:

Christmas lights Capitol building

Christmas lights Capitol building with actual Capitol building in the background

Photography perspective: final words

Ideally, you now feel equipped to revolutionize your compositions (just by moving your camera and your feet! ).

Do not fall into the trap of shooting everything you see at eyes level. Instead, take the time to discover your subject and consider changing your perspective. Obtain low and see what modifications, get up high and discover a new view, or shift laterally and watch different relationships occur and disappear in between objects.

Today over to you:

What is your favorite photo taking perspective? Do you have any tips for great results? Share your ideas in the comments below!

low down perspective in photography road stretching into the distance

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