Do you always shoot from eye level, or do you like to mix it up? One of my favorite ways to make a shot more interesting is to simply change my perspective. I’ll climb up on to something, kneel down to photograph a child at eye level, or even risk life and limb (figuratively of course) lowering myself into a crevasse in order to get a more interesting angle. Interesting images are all about having interesting light and perspective. Even a boring subject can seem amazing given the right perspective. However, if you already have an interesting subject, the right perspective can take it up to the next level.
(To see more of my images from Mount Rainier, take a look at the November issue of Outside Magazine, or you can read the article online here.)
or view the gallery below
I had a good idea of what I wanted to get in the shot of Crystal Mill. I wanted the mill framed by aspen trees above in, with a good shot of the Crystal River below. Unfortunately, the shot from ground level was looking up at the mill, with the top of the building above the trees. The foliage in the foreground also obscured the river from view. The solution was simple. I brought the car right up to the edge of the road and position myself and my tripod on top of it. This allowed me to get the perspective I wanted, although I think a couple of more feet would have been even better. Maybe next time, I will bring a kitchen table to place on top of the car…
There really isn’t a secret to photographing children. Just a couple of things to keep in mind. First and foremost, get down at their level or lower. Photos of children taken by standing adults have an air of superiority about them, and they tend to come off as condescending even when they aren’t intended to. In order to really connect with any subject, it is important to be at eye level like in the image on the right.
Another option is to try to get even lower. The young boy at the right was at a dancing away in his finest dress sandals at a wedding in Beaver Creek, Colorado. I actually laid down on the floor in order to get this perspective. Since he was dancing (in sandals no less,) I wanted there to be a lot more emphasis on his feet.
The other important thing to remember is to be quick. Unbelievably, kids have even shorter attention spans than I do. When you point a camera at a child, they will usually respond with a genuine smile or maybe an inquisitive look which both look good in a photo. However, if there is any hesitation, that look will soon turn to the shy turned head, or worse the fake “say cheese” smile. (Those smiles are called cheesy for a reason.) You have to be ready to photograph instantly to avoid that.