If you want to get creative with your portrait photography, experiment with shooting at different angles. It’s one of the easiest ways to add interest and flair to the portraits you take, and can change the way your subject comes across. Plus, all that crouching low and shooting from above makes you look like a pro! Here are a few ideas and tips to help you change up the angles in your portraits.
Shoot from above
Positioning yourself above your subject often results in a flattering shot. When your subject is looking slightly up at you, it can add a sense of vulnerability, intimacy, and approachability. The angle pulls the viewer into the portrait.
In the following example, look at the difference between shooting the subject straight on and shooting from slightly above. Here is the subject straight on:
And here is the subject looking slightly up at the camera. The upward glance lends the portrait a touch of intimacy and makes it more interesting.
However, taking the angle to an extreme level can make your subject’s head appear unnaturally large. Here is an example of taking the angle ever so slightly too far:
Shoot from below
Positioning yourself below your subject can add a feeling of power to your portrait. However, you have to be careful with this technique. If it’s not done correctly, this angle can be unflattering and make your subject look like they have a double chin.
Crouching down and shooting from below your subject can be fun to try, especially if their surroundings are interesting. In the following example, shooting from below gives the image a feeling of authority and emphasizes her surroundings. This was simply achieved by hunkering down near the ground.
Look for opportunities around you
Changing up the angle of your portraits is all about getting creative and being resourceful. Whether you’re shooting in a studio, out in the woods, or in a metropolitan area, there are always ways to find an interesting angle. One of the most important things you can do when you arrive at the shoot is look for opportunities to get creative.
Look for things your subject can sit on, so you can shoot from above. These can be stools, chairs, outdoor benches, a curb, hills, or even large rocks.
And no matter where you are, you can get low to the ground by crouching or kneeling. If you’re in a public area, make sure you’re not impeding foot traffic or in people’s way! And be warned: Sometimes you may get interesting looks from passersby, but they usually realize you’re doing acrobatics for a reason once they see your camera.
Be prepared and dress appropriately
If you know you’ll be taking some creative photos, make sure you dress appropriately. Wear long pants and bring knee pads if you think you may be squatting and kneeling for an extended amount of time. If you’ll be shooting outside, bring a blanket to put underneath you or wear clothing you don’t mind getting dirty.
Learning to use angles effectively is one of the easiest ways to make your portraits more interesting and expressive. Experiment with multiple angles to see which ones work best with each subject, and have fun!