Viewpoint and Angles in Photography

The point and shoot generation creates a problem when attempting to shoot great images. If you tend to point and shoot without much thought, you are already at a disadvantage when trying to take a great photo. Finding the nearest viewpoint and pushing the shutter button will hardly ever result in a great image. The point and shoot principle is the enemy of good images. When shooting an image you have to consider viewpoint as a key to a great composition. So, how can your viewpoint improve your image? Here’s how.

viewpoint composition

Photo by Francesco Luca Labianca; ISO 800, f/4.0, 1/1250-second exposure.

1. Do your homework

You need to know what to expect when going to a new location to take photos. Do a little research and ascertain what there is available in order to create your perfect shot. Knowledge is power, and if you want to create powerful images, do the homework. Know what to expect and where the elements will fit in the final image.

2. Use your feet after your head

Once you know what there is and you’ve planned the basic shoot, use your feet. Try variations and move around the location with your camera to your eye and see if there are any other viewpoints that will improve the image. See if there is perhaps another part of the location that will elevate you, take you down a level, or just give a variation of your initial idea.

3. Look for unusual angles

This can be from lying down on your back to climbing a tree or nearby staircase. Shooting from low down or high up gives a completely different perspective compared to a front and center shot. Trial and error are two great learning companions for any photographer, so use them. Another angle you can try is tilting the camera. This works well with good angle changes. A slight change makes the photo look like the photographer was a little tipsy, so make sure the viewer will know that the angle is part of the composition.

interesting camera angle

“Down on the Ground with a Camera…” captured by Alan Levine

4. Fill the frame

You can have the perfect location, a great viewpoint, and a unique angle, but if the subject is too far away the image can look a little average, so get in closer. Fill the frame with more of your subject. Always ask the question whether the composition is tight enough. If it isn’t, move your feet or change the lens. Exclude unnecessary elements or clutter to get the best out of the composition..

5. Take a chance

It’s often only the adventurous who take chances. I am not talking about risks but rather compositional chances such as shooting without looking through your viewfinder. Swing your camera around by the strap with the timer on. Hold it high above your head or down at your ankles. Remember to shoot a lot as many of these images won’t look good, but on the odd chance of something looking great, you should take the chance.

unusual angle photography

“X” captured by Thomas Leth-Olsen

Viewpoint is vitally important to any photo so always be very aware of your position in relation to the subject or object of interest. And, don’t forget safety. Watch where you walk and how high you get. Don’t compromise your safety for that perfect image. Looking at your award winning image from a hospital bed just doesn’t have the right feeling of achievement. Happy shooting!

About the Author:
Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years. Passionate about photography, radio and video, he is a Radio CCFm producer and presenter in Cape Town.

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3 responses to “Viewpoint and Angles in Photography”

  1. Good article. Nice points of view… ;-)

  2. Gary says:

    Great article. Viewpoint is extremely important and under utilized in the photography business!

  3. Daniel says:

    Thanks for the tips.

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