Move Around! A common rookie mistake is to stand and hold the camera at eye level and shoot from there. Whilst that can often produce great results, your shot will end up looking the same as everyone else’s shot.
It doesn’t always do justice to the subject and it may not provoke a particularly strong emotional response from the viewer. Remember that the angle you choose influences what you are saying about your subject and how you are making your viewer feel.
Childs play, Image by Alli Harper
Photographing Children and Pets
Children and pets are closer to the ground than most of us. If you kneel or sit down you will have a much better shot of their face and the world as they see it. Experiment with your angles. How does shooting down on them look? If you get down low and shoot up at them does that make them look more powerful? Does it say something different about them?
If you have a dog, lie down on the ground and try and get them to run towards you. Use a high shutter speed to freeze the action. Hopefully you will get a great shot with flying ears, paws in full flight, and a very happy facial expression. Sometimes our pets lie in hilarious positions - try a bird eye view (shooting from above).
Often models are photographed from a lower angle. Their legs go on forever and they look assured and glamorous. However, most mere mortals don’t look particularly good if the camera is angled at our nostrils right? It is often much more flattering, to shoot from a slightly higher angle, especially with older subjects.
Don’t go too high or it will look really obvious, but standing on a step can achieve this easily or on the high end of a slope. You can also try a bird’s eye view of your friends lying on the ground, or a worms eye view such as the one below.
Day at the beach, Image by Alli Harper
When point the camera up at a building, we get an effect called key stoning or tomb stoning. This is when the building looks as if it is leaning in. Of course there are “transform tools” in programmes like Capture One, Lightroom and Photoshop that enable you to correct this in post but it is always important to try and keep your camera on the same plane as your subject to avoid those sloping lines. You will even notice that it makes a difference if you keep it in mind for mobile photography, you probably instinctively try and hold your phone so that it is straight.
Welt, Image by Alli Harper
Try the same subject from different angles
Some of the best advice I ever received was from a Photo Editor I worked for. He told me to explore each subject by shooting “up, down, from the left and from the right”. I hold onto those words to this day. When you come home from a shoot, you automatically have more choice and it forces you to explore a subject more thoroughly to find the best angle. Also look for reflections to see if they present your subject in an interesting light.
Puddle, Image by Alli Harper
We all know the principle of a good image needing a foreground, middle and background. Think about the best way to frame your shot. Do you want to shoot down through the tree branches, from ground level with rocks in the foreground? Try and find the best angle for your composition that really puts your viewer in that spot so that they feel like they are there.
Aerial and Drone Photography
We now have the possibility to photograph subjects as they have never been seen before. If you are lucky to be able to take pictures from a plane, remember to use a high shutter speed, good depth of field and make sure you are focused on the ground and not the window.
If you have a drone, think about all the wonderful things that you can reveal that we are normally oblivious to.
Aerial view over Queensland, Image by Alli Harper
As always, this plays a really important role. Robert Capa, the famous war photographer and member of the Magnum group, said “if your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” He was known to use an inconspicuous 35 mm camera.
The less bulky your gear, the more freedom you will have. Experiment with taking pictures that will make the viewer feel like they are right in amongst the crowd.
Experiment! Try really exploring your next subject. Try the “up, down, right, left” approach and see what you come up with, experiment with different focal lengths and distances. Try and mix up your standard approach to a subject and have fun trying new things out.