When it comes to photographing kids, you’re probably well aware of the frequently offered suggestion to get down on their level and photograph them from that vantage point. While that’s sound advice and a great way to compose lifestyle images of kids, it’s not the only way! Changing your perspective as the photographer is a good tool for helping tell stories in lifestyle work, as it allows you to instantly add things to or remove things from your frame that either enhance or detract from the story you’re telling. Sometimes, a simple shift in your perspective as the photographer can make just the right difference in what’s included in your frame.
One of the reasons that we’re often told to get down on the level of our subjects and photograph them there is that it immerses you as the photographer – and, in turn, your viewer – in the scene. It creates a strong sense for the viewer of being in the moment, and that is a great goal to achieve with any image.
As I mentioned, shooting at your subject’s level is a great way to compose an image, but it’s good to change things up a bit from time to time when it comes to your perspective, too! Shooting down on your subject can introduce an element of novelty to your work. It can also be a really effective way of eliminating background distractions from your frame, which is particularly helpful with lifestyle photography.
One easy way to experiment with perspective in your work is to shoot from both up close and from far away. Photographing your subject up close and personal can truly allow your viewer to get that ‘personal’ feeling… as if he/she has a genuine connection with the subject(s) in your frame. Shooting up close allows us as photographers to really convey emotion and to give our viewers a peek into the thoughts of our subjects.
On the flip side, however, shooting from way back can create a whole new element in your work. It can enhance the feeling of ‘peeking in’ on your subject’s world, which is so effective in lifestyle work since lifestyle work seeks to document life as it is. The wider-angle perspective can also enhance the story you’re conveying by adding to the setting, context, and/or content of your narrative. I love creating lifestyle images in this manner, which is why my 35mm prime lens is attached to my camera about 90% of the time.
Finally, don’t forget that photographing your subject straight on isn’t the only way to effectively photograph him/her. Photographing subjects from behind or from a side angle can convey a story in an equally effective manner as documenting your subject’s face by shooting from the front. Additionally, photographing your subject from behind or the side offers your viewer a sense of ‘peeking in’ on your subject’s world – like I touched on previously – which is another terrific means of helping your viewer feel like he/she is in the moment.
So, when it comes to perspective in photography, mix things up! Try shooting from all angles and seeing which one speaks to you the most for a given scene, which angle best conveys the story you’re sharing. Shoot from up above, shoot from behind, shoot from below (just be aware of unflattering ‘up the nose’ shots!), shoot from the side, and shoot from the front. Shoot up close, and shoot from way back. Shoot from any and every perspective you can think of… changing your perspective is one of the easiest ways to breathe some new life into your work!
WEEK 9 CHALLENGE: This week your challenge is to use new perspectives in your photos. Try shooting from above, below, behind, the side, up close, and far away! Try something new that you don't normally do! Go like the Kensie M Photography Facebook Page and post your favorite from the week there! We can’t wait to see what you are working on. And remember we love questions, so feel free to post them in the comments section!
Ashley Spaulding loves documenting everyday life with her awesome husband, their two fantastic kiddos, and their two feline kiddos. Lifestyle work is one of her greatest photography-related loves, along with teaching and mentoring. In addition to her family and photography, the things that top her list of “favorites” are pumpkin spice lattes, Michigan summers, the color green, pretty much anything chocolate, and girls’ nights. A Nikon girl and Lightroom devotee, Ashley is a Kansas City-based professional photographer who specializes in families, little ones, and lifestyle sessions. You can check out her website here and be sure and go "like" her on Facebook here.