The magic of perspective: making the ordinary extraordinary
Photography has the incredible ability to help us to see the world from a different perspective. Ordinary sights/objects can become extraordinary with a little effort and creativity. Can you guess what the subject in this photograph is?
Well here are some tips to create photographs with amazing perspective:
1. Literally shoot while you are at ground level. Many times I find myself laying on the floor taking photographs in all types of terrain. Why? Because people don't often see the world from that perspective. It's interesting, fresh, and visually stunning. Go in a meadow full of blooming wildflowers. If your first instinct is to stand up and take a picture of a flower without any effort, try to be a little more rugged. Put some grass stains on those jeans (might want to keep the designer clothing out of this equation). Lay down flat on your stomach, take a picture of those flowers at ground level. I guarantee you won't be disappointed!
2. Shoot up and above your subject. This can be a little trickier since it requires some more planning. Ever see a photograph where a person looks as if they are floating in mid-air, their clothing wafting gently in the breeze? Last time I checked the weight of gravity was 9.87 meters/second squared (a.k.a. that's not happening in reality). Using a high ladder, or in some cases an overhead catwalk, the subject is laying on the floor while the photographer is up and above shooting straight down. This gives the illusion, when done correctly, your subject is in fact not on the floor. Depending on how it's executed it will create an incredibly interesting perspective.
3. Get risky with your angles. You see it in cinema all the time! If you want to create some tension in your photograph try to shoot the subject with a little camera tilt to the right or left (often referred to as a dutch tilt). Hitchcock used this technique all the time to create some uneasiness in the frame. This also may be useful in portraiture if your subject is quirky or non-conformist (since these people tend to see the world in a different way...not always straight up and down!). There are so many tricks, just experiment. If you want a good reference I strongly recommend watching the movie Citizen Kane by Orson Welles (the best movie ever made in my opinion, but also the worst movie ever made according to many of my friends). This movie is notorious for using incredible perspective shooting, so much in fact they would construct the set around the intended camera angle.