After reading our manuals last weekend we’re going to move away from the technical and focus on something we can all do immediately to improve our photos. We’re going to start talking about COMPOSITION.
Composition refers to what makes up the photo. It can take a shot from meh to good or from good to great. But it requires looking through the viewfinder and taking a few moments to think about “ABC” before just snapping.
What does ABC stand for?
So as not to overwhelm ourselves, let’s start with A this week – Angles.
Let’s run a scenario. You’re at Great Aunt Lou Lou’s 90th birthday and you want to get a family group shot. What do you do? Most people will go front and center, hold up the camera, count “1, 2, 3 cheeese!” and snap.
We can do better than that.
Are you short? If you’re anything like me and my family, we’re vertically challenged, which there’s nothing wrong with…until you want to take a picture of people taller than you. Suddenly you’re looking up noses, catching double chins, and other unflattering things.
Try it for yourself. Grab a model and try taking a picture from slightly below them. Then have them sit, squat, or grab a chair and stand on it, get to a higher level than them. Try taking that shot now. I’ll bet you it’s a LOT more flattering. The chin will cast a shadow and create depth, hiding any double chins, the eyes are closer to the camera, so they will appear larger, and the hips and thighs will be further away, making them seem smaller.
So grab that chair, climb the staircase, shoot from a balcony, have your subjects sit in chairs or on a couch…do what you have to do to shoot from above. Your friends and family will thank you.
Now, this isn’t to say that shooting from below is bad. In this case it is, and in most cases with people it is
Let’s look at another scenario, say you’re taking a picture of a flower. Everyone’s seen the straight on shot, but if you hunker down and shoot from below, you get a whole new view of the petals. Suddenly, that meh shot of a bloom becomes different and interesting.
Here’s an example of my own (with pictures, yay!). Natalie was taking a nap in her crib for the first time, and, being a shorty, I danced around the crib, trying to get the best angle of the image with my fixed length lens.
First I went for the obvious shot from above, focusing on my sweet girl’s face. But it didn’t tell enough of a story for me.
So I ran around and got a wider shot that showed her Pooh Bear that played music and the pink bear whose throbbing heartbeat had lulled Natalie to sleep. This definitely got more of the story, but I was missing her face.
So I took a risk and went for the “through the bars” look. This would be a good shot if the bars weren’t so thick. They obscure too much for my taste.
So I pulled in closer. I didn’t get the whole picture, but this has the barely-there frame of the crib bars, the foot of the bear, and most importantly, the peaceful face of my dreaming princess. For me, this was the winning angle.
This weekend I want you to capture an image from an angle that you wouldn’t have thought of right away. Try a couple different shots like I did and see what you like best. Upload them and let me know what you like and don’t like about each.