Each time you go out into the world on a photography journey, you are on a mission to tell a story. You might be heading to the local market to document the vendors selling organic produce or taking a mini-break to a city in another state. Perhaps you are even taking an overseas trip to somewhere exotic.
Wherever you and your camera are going, you will be packing your techniques as well as your flash, lenses and filters.
Using angles is a creative and effective way to tell stories through your photography. Angles can convey emotions, drama and perspective. You don't need to buy any fancy new gear. Just experiment and see how angles can add depth and interest to your work. Let's look at some basic photography angles that can elevate a snap to a powerful image that will make people look twice.
Get Down Low
Taking photos from a low viewpoint makes your subject appear larger and often stronger or more powerful. It also can make them appear taller.
You can experiment by taking a photo in a standing position. Then without moving your feet, simply crouch down and retake the photo.
For even more dramatic results, lay on your stomach to get even lower. This level can change the whole look of the image once again. At this low level, you can see the ground and the impact is often impressive.
Once you master this ground-level shot, you can put your camera on the ground and shoot. This takes some practice to get the frame and focus right. Also, make sure the ground is dry and clean before putting your camera down.
Shoot from a high angle and get impressive images that look bold and eye-catching. You can capture your subject and also see the surroundings from an interesting viewpoint. Seeing the surroundings helps tell your story as you can see all the things going on around your subject that they might not even be aware of when you take your shot.
Climb onto anything stable and safe. Fences, rocks, or outdoor furniture all can help you get high for the shoot. If you anticipate wanting to shoot high, you might carry a small ladder with you.
If you don't have anything to climb onto for that high angle, you can lift your camera into the air to take the shot. Lift it, focus and shoot a few frames. Ensure you have a firm grip on your camera and maybe wrap your camera strap around your wrist for extra support. If you were shooting a couple on the beach, this technique would be perfect. It is a flattering and interesting view of your subjects and also makes the ocean look powerful and large if you shoot wide. Shooting wide at the beginning is recommended, so you don't crop your subjects unintentionally. Once you master the shot, you can try zooming in.
Tilting your camera can create a feeling of movement and is great for action shots of people, animals, or vehicles. Try small tilts for subtle impact or a big tilt to express a subject that might be almost out of control.
Go Far Left or Right
Try shooting from the far side of the frame. Lean your body against a wall and shoot as close as possible to the wall. The wall becomes a part of the image that frames it. You can use a fence, vehicle, tree or anything large enough to become a part of the image.
Eye To Eye
Shooting people and animals eye to eye can create images that show the emotion your subjects are feeling and what you, the shooter and storyteller might be experiencing. If you are lucky enough to be photographing a wild tiger up close (on safari and hopefully not in your back yard), an eye to eyes shot might show the tiger as being fierce or protective. At the same time, the photo might convey a feeling of fear or courage that you might be feeling.
When an image can evoke two opposite emotions, such as fierceness and fear, it is a powerful and memorable shot.
Eye to eye portraits can also draw out emotions to help tell stories of joy, sorrow, confusion, or anger. How can you find a subject to give you such a range of emotions? Look at children. Little ones can bust out a wide range of emotions better than an A-list actress on their good days. They can go from happily playing to getting angry at a sibling to a tearful meltdown and into a sad sulk before bouncing back to their happy place in 10 minutes. You just have to be ready.
Other Angles To Consider
this shows an interesting perspective that takes in a lot of a scene.
great for shooting children or couples lying on the ground or for flat lays that are trending now.
when it's time to take your helicopter for a spin you can get some awesome images from the sky.
Not all situations will lend themselves to all of these techniques. For example, you can try the “get high” technique if you are shooting scenes of hot air balloons from the ground (unless you can see a reflection of the balloons in water).
Often you need to think fast on the spot. The skill of pivoting during a shoot is what produces those unexpected wow shots. These are images that you might not even realize you have until you get home and download them onto your computer. By moving around and testing angles, you can find techniques that work well with the message you are trying to convey. Your environment and subject can be moving and changing, so you need to adapt at the same time.
First, try out the different angle techniques and see the results. Then as you gain confidence, try out several techniques during a photoshoot. Are the results as you expected, or did you surprise yourself? Even professional photographers with decades of experience can discover an amazing and unexpected shot during the editing process that was captured while experimenting with angles.
You never know what you might produce, and that is one of the enchanting parts of photography that drives us to keep shooting everything from everyday life to once-in-a-lifetime events. It can all produce exciting results depending on how you look at it. Find your angle and tell your story beautifully.