Did you ever think: “Cool, I never looked at it that way“? A new point of view is refreshing and possibly surprising. This counts for opinions, but also for art.
Part of a good composition is an unique point of view. You need an angle you don’t see every day to intrigue your audience. On this page the next angles are discussed, hoping to inspire you to change your point of view:
- First person
- Become the subject
- Look downwards
- Look upwards
- Turn around
- Upside-down or sideways
- Mirrors and reflections
- Getting close with a wide angle
Naturally, when you capture photos, you press your eye against the viewfinder. This is your point of view. And why not show the world that this is your point of view? By including your arms and possibly an object that you are holding, you show the spectator exactly that what you are seeing. For these type of photos, a wide angle lens is helpful.
Become the subject
Another change to your daily photography, might be switching from your point of view towards the view of the person (or subject) you are photographing. Change the perspective as if you see the world through the eyes of your subject. This can be accomplished by capturing a scene from behind your subject. Or by finding an object you can use to photograph your main subject. Take a look at the image below. In this photo, I am looking out of a window on a rainy day. Instead of capturing my view, I capture what the window is seeing: me.
In the photo below, I am picking a bottle to drink. Although I am the main subject, the bottle of whisky is the main object in this photo. Capturing me from behind the bottle (and the shelf) we see a new view. Instead of looking into a closet, the photo shows what it is like to look out of a closet.
For those owning a dog, here is an idea: capture your dog from the point of view of a branch (s)he is holding. Or during a wedding: when the bride and groom cut the cake, photograph them from the point of the knife, instead of just standing next to the newlyweds as others do. A nice one to try at home: Put your camera in the fridge and capture yourself grabbing a soda, like the image above as I pick a whisky.
Looking down is a different perspective than look straight forward, and therefore can be surprising.
But sometimes, you need to find a higher spot to take the photo. This is helpful for photographing large groups of people, or to show an overview of an area. Also, shooting models from a slightly higher perspective can make them look thinner (do not share this secret with your models!).
Another option is to look straight down.
If you photograph children, it is fun to get down to their height, and picture the world from their point of view. In Dutch, this is called “frog’s eye”. Because frogs are always looking up.
If you use any of these methods with a wide angle lens, keep in mind the distortion and perspective shift. This can be funny, but also not very flattering for people. By pointing your camera up, objects will appear to be falling backwards, and by looking down, object seem to lean forward. Something else to keep in mind, is not to photograph people (too close) from below. Nobody likes to look straight in someone’s nostrils, and it is not flattering for peoples chins.
Looking straight to the sky can be a nice perspective too!
When you move, you look towards the way you move. Very save, but turning your head around will gave you a new perspective on the scene you previously saw in front of you. An example is the image below. My car photographed from the front seat looking back.
Most people have the tendency to stand straight up when taking a photo. But getting eye-level with your subject results in very pleasing, natural photos. If you haven’t done this before, this tip will improve your portrait photography a lot.
This is not only pleasing for portrait photos, but work well with objects too!
Upside-down or sideways
A different method to intrigue your audience, is by confusing them. Turn the photo upside-down, or turn the scene sideways, to tickle their brains. Using reflections is a nice addition to this technique.
Mirrors and reflections
For some people, spying is fun (I think secretly it is fun for all of us). One way to spy, is to look at somebody via a reflection, without them noticing you are staring (creepy). You could adopt this technique in photography too! In these cases you do not take a picture of the subject, but of the reflection of the subject. Like the image below.
Or you could capture the reflection of light. In the photo below the blue light of the window was nicely reflected on the street.
Getting close with a wide angle
The last tip on this page is to get close with a wide angle lens, like the Nikon 10-24. A great lens for landscape photography with a crop camera (click to find out what that is). Wide angle lenses are prone to distortion, and although most photographers do not want this deforming effect, it can be used to your advantage too. You could use it to create a fish-eye like effect! By getting close to your subject with a wide angle lens you accomplish fun scenes, like the image below.
This concludes this page about different point of views (PoV). Hopefully you are inspired to use them. One final tip though: Independent of the PoV of your likings, always check your background and foreground. Avoid sticks growing out of peoples heads when they stand next to a pole, and avoid trash in the foreground to prevent your photo from being funny or messy while beauty was your intention. You do not always need to go for that unique shot, but it won’t harm to think “could I do this differently?” occasionally.