Finding Fresh Angles in Photography

How on earth do you find a fresh angle to shoot from when they’ve all been taken? That’s not what I mean. I do not mean discovering a new angle but using new angles you don’t usually shoot from. By changing your angles you’ll add a whole new dimension to your photography.

fresh angles for better photos

Photo by Sathish J; ISO 400, f/14.0, 1/100-second exposure.

The question I get asked as a photography teacher is how do the pros do it? Why are their images so different from mine? Simple, one of the techniques they use is angles or viewpoints. Implement them in your images and you are one step nearer to a great image. The key here is varying the angles and trying to think outside the box.

1. Don’t stand in front of your subject

Everyone shoots an image from directly in front of their subjects or objects. They line everyone up, tell them to say cheese, and push the shutter button. Then they wonder later why their images all look the same. The reason they all look the same is because most people shoot from eye level, which, on average, is about 1.5 meters or 5 feet above the ground. Boring because everyone does it. So think before you shoot, and use your feet to move around.

2. Use your stomach not your head

How low can you go is the chant when attempting to belly dance under a balancing pole. Get down low on the ground and shoot from that angle looking up at the subject. Immediately the perspective has changed and the image is dramatically different.

low angle bridge

Photo by Nick Page

How many people do you ever see in a tourist spot lying on their stomachs getting a shot. No need to answer. I have never seen one. If you are prepared to forgo embarrassment, then you are the one who will get the unique shot. Logical, isn’t it? But how many people do it?

3. Vary your height

This is just a little less embarrassing than point two. Using your knees, sitting down, or resting on your haunches all help you to vary your height. More people do this, so it’s not as unique as using your stomach. But, you will still get great images. Do this exercise: Choose a subject and then shoot it from 3 meters on your stomach, sitting on your bum, kneeling, crouching, and standing straight up. Then move in a few feet or a meter and do it all again. Do this until your are as near as you can get. Then view all of your images and see how many of them are better than a normal standing image.

4. Out cold

This is a variation of point two. Try lying flat on your back. Try it. It will give you a totally new perspective on life and your photography. Again you never see photographers lying on their backs in public places. Why? Same old reasons: embarrassment and shyness. But, the one who tries this gets the better shot. Ever seen those shots looking up into tall trees? How do you think they were taken? Right! Use this angle more often, and you’ll find that more than half your shots will improve dramatically. You can even try this for family shots to get that unique extra photo that nobody else has.

5. Bird’s eye view

Now don’t get all dangerous and attempt to climb too high and damage yourself and your gear. Just get a vantage point that is above the normal eye level images that everyone shoots. Get a different perspective. It may be great to get the odd high shot but really all you want to do is get a higher, different viewpoint. Again, something that is unique and not the norm.

birds eye view

Photo by Geng Sittipong; ISO 200, f/2.5, 1/60-sec.

6. On the move

One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to use your feet. Forget about zooms and move around. Walk around your subject or the object you’re shooting and find a different viewpoint or angle. Vary your height, lie on your back, get higher or even lower but find something that is different. At the same time though, use your head to visualize the final image and work toward that.

These are just a few tips for shooting more creative images from different angles. I think that this is one the best tips you can use as you learn  photography. Don’t be afraid to experiment or get embarrassed. Keep practicing, and before you know it you will be shooting like a pro.

About the Author:
Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years and has written three books on photography. He has produced 21 Steps to Perfect Photos, a program of learner-based training using outcome-based education.

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5 responses to “Finding Fresh Angles in Photography”

  1. Some useful tips, thanks for sharing them

  2. Brandon Gutierrez says:

    Don’t ever stand in front of your subject. It makes it look unprofessional, and ugly. Remember to photograph your subject in different angles. It makes your picture look good and professional. Use your knees, sitting down, and even laying down will make your picture look nice. Getting a birds eye view can be very dangerous. Always remember to find a vantage point, to get a normal eyes view of your subject.

  3. Douglas Fry says:

    This is all great advice. I think the key is to always have your camera with you. You never know when a really interesting subject is going to catch your eye. I always take my camera where ever I go even if I am just popping to the shop, in case there is something of interest to capture.

  4. Wally says:

    Great advice for the supple of body. For those of us who are in our later years, a camera with live view on a fully articulated LCD is much preferred. I can and often do take photos from all angles and perspectives without having to contort my body. It allows me to exercise creativity with relative ease. Highly recommended.

  5. Adam says:

    This is quite a refreshing stance for photography. I try advocate to my friends all the time that you don’t need fancy gear to make a great picture, you need a great composition. That being said, birds eye view photography is made thousands of times easier with a drone.

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