One of the fastest ways to improve your photography is to practice shooting from different camera angles.
Have you ever visited Le Mont-Saint-Michel in France? There is a restaurant there called La Mère Poulard which is famous for omelets. I was lucky enough to spend the night on the island a few years ago and shot this photo of eggs. I just loved the whole scene on the kitchen table, with the copper bowls, the old table, and the rustic basket. So, I squatted down so I could shoot from a camera angle just above table level. Because I was using my DSLR, I could focus on the eggs and create an out-of-focus background of the table and copper bowls.
Learning about camera angles
But, wait, why did I feature a photo of a fire hydrant at the top of this post? When I was first learning to shoot with a DSLR, a photography teacher challenged our class to take 20 photos of the same fire hydrant, with no two being the same. You should have seen our expressions. “Say what?” I didn’t keep those photos, so I ran out into the rain this morning to shoot photos of the fire hydrant across the street, in honor of that instructor.
A year after that class, I was challenged again to shoot a subject from different camera angles. This time I did keep my shots. As I look back on them, I can see my problem. And that’s why I’m writing this post. I want to save you from my slow improvement! 😉
Do I really have to move?
If you are like I was, you’re thinking, “I’ll shoot this flower from the front and then from the back. Two angles. Done!” You might even be looking at the light and feeling creative and saying, “I’ll shoot with the setting sun falling on the flower. Now, I’ll just move around to the back and get another shot, with a sun flare. Success!”
Here’s what you and I are missing. We need to be more creative in our movement. We need to get into different angles. Unless we really move, we’re not going to get the shots.
Two years later (Thanks to Lightroom Classic, I know the dates!), I was in Boston, on a tour of the USS Constitution with my college roommate. If you’re not familiar with this ship, it is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate that is part of the United States Navy. She was launched in 1797 and is well worth a visit. By now, I had finally figured out what I call “camera angle yoga.”
As I was shooting this detail photo, my roommate interrupted me to ask why I was lying on the deck of the ship in the middle of a tour. What can I say? It’s just what photographers do. 😎 I had finally figured out that I had to move to get interesting angles.
The secret to camera angles
This is the secret. Behind a unique photo is a person who got into a unique position to shoot from a different camera angle.
Skip took this somewhat shaky shot with his iPhone a few years ago. I was taking a photo of the guacamole that he had just made. Honestly, I should have taken the bowl and cutting board and put them on the floor, for safety’s sake, but the light wasn’t as good there.
Another advantage to using different camera angles
This photo of my daughter was shot in an area full of tourists in Paris. What I really wanted was a souvenir shot of our trip together to Paris. To eliminate the tourists, I squatted down and shot up at her face, with Sacre Coeur behind her. A perfect souvenir that wasn’t a snapshot, just because I changed my camera angle! And with no tourists in sight! Remember this on your next trip.
You can learn a lot about camera angles by reading about film making here.
It’s never too early to prepare for travel. You can read about what travel photographers shoot in this blog post.