How do you feel when you see yourself in an image? Have you ever thought about how the position of the camera when it was captured may affect the way viewers feel about you or you feel about yourself?
Today we are continuing the series on how to take better portraits so that you can use what you have to take better senior portraits or any portraits for that matter. So far we have covered lighting in the two previous posts. Rather than talking about lighting today, even though it is super important and AMAZING, we will be discussing perspective. By perspective, I am talking about where the camera is positioned in relation to the subject of the photograph. Where you place the camera has major implications on the feel of the image. Let me start off by saying there is NO right or wrong perspective. Photography is an art form and it is up to the photographer to decide what they think looks best. With that said, let's dive in...
Capturing the Boss
The first perspective is achieved by positioning the camera below the subject and shooting upwards. Because of the angle, the viewer of the image will feel as though they are looking upwards at the subject. The subject is thus put in a dominant, commanding position, which is very empowering. Check out the image of my wife in her wedding dress at Black Creek Park below. The perspective of the image plus that smug look, communicates loud and clear that she is no push over. Message delivered. Period.
Basically, if you want your subject to look confident, strong, or in control, like they are going to do great things in life, then this is perspective will help embed that psychology into the image.
By the way, if you go for this look make sure to wear some clothes that you can get dirty in, because to get these shots, you will likely find yourself on the ground.
Capturing your Peer
When the camera is at the same level as the subject, the viewer is not put in a position of increased or decreased power. Rather, they become coequal with the viewer. The perspective is neutral. This is a great perspective to make your subject relatable. If you check out photo sharing sites, such as pexels.com, you will find that most portrait images are taken from either this perspective or with the camera below as I just discussed. It does not impose on the viewer and push them away. Rather, it affords them the possibility to linger a bit and look. After all, that is the goal of any good composition: to capture and hold the viewer's attention.
Notice, this does not mean always that camera is physically at the same height. Take for the example the cover image. That image was taken by a photographer literally standing over the subject and shooting straight down. However, the perspective is as though you were at eye level with her. It is a neutral perspective.
I want to point out that this is super powerful with children, because it empowers a child more than they would normally be by inserting the viewer into their world. Check out the image from Springdale Farms below that demonstrates this.
Capturing Like a Boss
When the subject is shot from above, the psychology is reversed. The viewer is now on top and therefore empowered. An image with this perspective is great for portraying your subject in a softer manner, because the viewer is not being imposed upon by the subject in the image.
Camera Position Isn't Everything
Do not be fooled, the camera position makes a big difference in how the subject is viewed, but it is not the only thing. The rest of the composition matters a lot. We will chat more about that in the future.