Whether you photograph your family, your surroundings or anything else – there are an array of photography guidelines to keep in mind. One aspect that can have a strong effect on your photos is perspective.
What is Perspective?
Perspective in photography is quite similar to perspective in the human mind. It’s about point of view. But if you want to get technical, there are two aspects to perspective in photography:
- The spatial relationship (e.g. the relative dimensions and distance) between objects.
- The position of the viewer’s eye in relation to objects in the photo.
Intentional or not, every photograph has perspective. In addition to adding interest and a desired aesthetic to your photos, thoughtfully creating a perspective can also shape and reveal attitudes about a subject.
Recognizing Your Perspective, And Its Impact
Scroll through the latest in your camera roll. What sorts of perspectives do you see? Have you found the optimal vantage points for each of your subjects, or have you fallen into the habit of shooting from the angle that’s most convenient and quick?
If you only have one takeaway, let it be this: the feet are the photographer’s most valuable tool. So get moving! Circle your subject – search for creative angles, unique foreground interest, background elements and clever framing.
Don’t trap yourself by shooting from eye level only. It won’t do your creativity much good, and it often leaves your photos looking flat.
Changing Your Perspective
Let’s look at some ways in which a change in perspective can change a photo entirely.
1. LOOK UP
Particularly when shooting something grand in size, try getting low (really low) and shooting upwards. It accentuates the massive scale of high-reaching subjects – like architecture or old-growth forests – evoking a sense of wonder.
2. BACK UP
Sometimes we move close or zoom as an effort to crop “distracting” foreground out of a clean photo. But that’s not always the best choice. If you take two steps back, you may catch foreground that adds layers of interest. As long as it doesn’t look like an accident, the right overlapping foreground adds welcome contrast to your landscape or everyday scene.
3. GET CLOSER
The opposite works as well for certain subjects. If you’re photographing still life, consider getting even closer than you planned. Move way in to capture only a portion of your subject – this macro perspective will turn the piece into an examination of texture or color, rather than the object alone.
4. MEET THEM AT THEIR EYE LEVEL
Your eye level is not the same as everyone else’s – particularly for little ones. The fun of photographing your kids or pets is attempting to capture the world through their eyes. Rather than always shooting from a downward angle, get down to capture the perspective of the toys and friends they’re playing with.
5. FRAME IT
Popular photo subjects – like an art installation, for example – tend to be captured the same way by countless people. Challenge yourself to do something different with framing. Examine your surroundings to find a unique vantage point to shoot through – like the window of a passing train, the railing of the pedestrian bridge, or the lens of eyeglasses set on a table. Let your choice illustrate your artistic vision.
6. WATCH FOR OPPORTUNITIES
If you exercise your creative eye, you notice unpredictable moments that make prime photo perspectives. In those focal opportunities, everything in view lines up into a juxtaposition that couldn’t be choreographed better. Keep your eyes open (towards the world, not a screen) and you’re bound to see them.
The first photo you take is almost never your best. That’s why it’s so important to move around, look for leading lines, find the un-shot angle. Your photos say something about you – make sure it’s worth listening to.