Point of View in Photography Composition is Massive
One sure fire way to spot a beginner photographer is by the viewpoint they have used to take their photograph. The role of point of view in composition is often overlooked, so lets make sure you're not making those mistakes.
If you scroll down there's a video to accompany this article, but you'll learn more if you both read and watch.
It's a natural instinct. We're holding a camera, we point it, we shoot. All our images are then perceived from our own eyepoint, where we are routed to the spot. We see the world from that perspective every day, so it doesn't make our photographs interesting. However if we try shooting from different points of view (or angles), that's where the magic happens.
You would never see a flower from this viewpoint unless you specifically crouched down. This makes it instantly more pleasing to look at.
You see flowers from this viewpoint every day - and walk on past. It's lost in the noise of everyday life.
Are you starting to see the importance of point of view in photography composition?
Point of View in Composition - the Basics
Children and Animals - Their Viewpoint
They say never work with them, but rules like these are meant to be broken. When you do work with children and animals I always advise shooting from their eye-view - their viewpoint. Not yours.
The terms "looking down on someone", and "looking up at someone" came about for a reason. It's an uncomfortable experience, and looking at photographs taken from those points of view are uncomfortable. Tension is created in that image.
It's ingrained in our psychology that images taken from the eye view of a person and animal are more pleasing. You feel more at ease looking at them. In addition you're looking from a more interesting point of view - one that you wouldn't normally see.
Perspective - Deliberately Using Height for Effect
Point of view in composition isn't just about eye level. There are reasons why you might not want to shoot from that perspective. What if you want to denote tension? Then you might want to shoot from above the person or animal. If you want to make the person or animal look powerful you might want to shoot from below.
Photograph from above
Tension is created here by deliberately shooting down on the man from a height.
Photographing from Below
A sense of power is created in this image by shooting from a low point of view. The perspective makes the lady seem more powerful.
You can see from the examples above why you might want to shoot from unusual angles. You are saying something with your composition and you are shooting from an angle you wouldn't normally see which immediately makes things more interesting. This point is relevant to all photography - whatever you are shooting.
Before we get into that further, remember that if you want to take your photography to the next level we have a beginners online photography course: Photography Fundamentals. It goes into more detail about camera craft, settings, different "rules" of composition, and the basics of photography. This course is fun, it’s quirky, it’s one heck of an online photography course!
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Experiment with Perspective and Angles
We've already alluded to the fact that simply departing from viewing things from an angle you would normally see them can result in a very strong visual impact. It makes things more interesting simply because we're not used to viewing things that way. This is true whether we're talking about living subjects or landscapes or architecture.
The point of view you use can make or break any shot. As soon as you get out there and start taking shots from angles you're not used to seeing things, you'll start to see your images immediately becoming more interesting. You'll start to see the world around you very differently and find wonder in objects you never gave a second glance to.
It's a real gift. It's the photographic eye. It takes time to develop, but you can start having fun from day one. There are no wrongs or rights - just experimentation.
Always consider the following before you shoot:
If you keep the following issues in mind when you go out with your camera you'll really start to develop that eye for what makes a good photograph.
Would the image look better if I shot from above?
Shooting from above doesn't necessarily mean from a great height. It just means your camera is looking down on the subject - whether it is a flower or a mountain range. Height can give stunning new perspectives.
Height: Low Down
Would the image look better if I shot from low down?
Shooting from low down and upwards has increased the sense of perspective and power of something you might not otherwise have noticed if you walked past.
This shot simply wouldn't have worked if you shot from your eye level, or downwards. The angle gives a sense of authority to the subject.
Left? Or Right?
Do I need to be further to the left or the right?
While we're starting to encroach on another rule of composition here - framing, it's inherently connected to the point of view. This shot wouldn't have worked if it had been taken from a little further to the right.
If I held my camera at a jaunty angle would it improve my shot?
There is no rule that says the camera has to be horizontally straight. Sometimes jaunty angles can make pleasing shots. They can however give a sense of tension.
Landscape? Or Portrait?
Would this shot look better in portrait or landscape?
This image for example wouldn't have worked in landscape mode. It's the portrait shape of the image that lends to the dynamic height and power of the shot.
Turning the camera around to shoot portrait combined with shooting from down low make this shot.
Here's your video summary:
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