Life is all about perspective, and photography is no different. One of the easiest ways to add visual interest to your images is to look at them in a way that no one else does. A unique point of view captures attention, and even when the subject is familiar, can drastically alter the way a viewer thinks about it. In this way, it’s possible to turn any old subject into something fresh and exciting, simply by changing the way you look at it.
Changing your Perspective
Most of the time, we view things at eye-level (duh). For most adults, this is a height of between 5 and 6 feet. Even if we’re shorter or taller than that, we’ve become accustomed to a lifetime of camera angles at this height, which can make even an extraordinary subject look plain. But if we change our point of view, suddenly we start to see the world in a whole new way.
Getting Down Low
The easiest way to change your view is to bend those knees and get down low. Shooting from the ground up is called a worm’s eye view, and it makes your scene spread upwards. This creates powerful, masculine portraits and epic panoramas that can incorporate strong foreground elements. It can also compress objects near the ground, minimizing them and accentuating the sky instead.
Standing on your tip-toes helps a little, but if you can find a way to get really high over your subject, you can make some pretty unique compositions (look for ladders, stairs, platforms, buildings, etc.). Of course, if your subject is a bug, you’ll have a much easier time hovering over it than a person.
A high angle is called a bird’s eye view, but it can be any tall angle, from a slight downward tilt to a full aerial view. It gives a perspective that is rarely seen, which can put the subject into a whole new context. With a more gentle angle, though, it simply emphasizes the top of the frame and diminishes the bottom; this makes it a popular angle for photographing women, because it enlarges the eyes and shrinks the chin and body.
Framing with the Foreground
Poking your lens between something, or framing your subject within another object, can add a new meaning to your photo composition because it invites the viewer to imagine themselves as the photographer. Bushes, fences, halls, and doorways are great for this technique, but it can be practiced using virtually any foreground element(s).
Shooting from the Hip
A technique often employed by street photographers is called shooting from the hip; this involves holding your camera low and snapping pictures without looking through the viewfinder at all – you just estimate where your lens is pointing and hope for the best. A lot of the time you come out with blurry or cock-eyed shots, but every now and then your camera sees something beautiful, possibly abstracted, that a logical brain might never have picked up on.
The main thing to remember is to capture the viewer’s imaginations. Next time you’re composing a shot, try changing your perspective in order to get a fresh angle on your photography.