Ansel Adams, one of the world’s greatest photographers, said, “A good photo is knowing where to stand.” This sums up photography as half the battle is won when you know the best viewpoint for a great photo. Finding that viewpoint is key to taking your photos from average to great. Let’s see why.
Understanding this fundamental of photography will dramatically increase the quality and composition of your images. When you think about it the idea is so simple. Once you know where to stand or which are the best positions in relation to your subject, the rest is so much easier.
So what is the best position when photographing a subject? I don’t know. Because I don’t know what or where your subject is. I cannot give you an answer as each scene is unique. What I can give you are some keys to finding that best position.
Explore your options
Don’t just stand at the scene or in front of your subject. Explore a variety of viewpoints by walking around and looking at the subject from as many positions as possible. Don’t take any photos at this point as it will distract you from your task. You want to allow yourself to become a part of the environment and see all the elements that are potentially part of your final image.
Take your time
The key to deciding what your final vantage point will be is taking your time. We are so quick to point and shoot in our new digital world that the element of time is often excluded from photography. Time is your best friend on any photoshoot. It takes time to walk around and make a decision. Coupled with this is thinking. Carefully think about how your final image will look as you will need to work towards this before pressing the shutter.
Explore the alternatives
Most of us will start with the normal or traditional viewpoint, standing right in front of the subject and shooting. Now, I am not saying that the traditional perspective will not be the best. What I am saying is that before going this route try out the more radical perspectives like, getting high up or lying down low to find a completely different viewpoint. Get in really close, hold the camera above your head, at a crazy angle, or hold it down by your ankles. This may sound crazy but you stand more chance of finding the best possible viewpoint.
A subject doesn’t stand isolated from its environment against a white backdrop, or at least very seldom. It stands in relation to all the other elements in the scene and you need to consider each one when finding the perfect position for your image. As you move around the subject the elements change in relation to the subject. The background moves and the subject contrasts differently to the new background. All of sudden there are distractions and clutter. Move the other way and the clutter lessons and potential for a great image increase. Using your feet is key to finding the best position.
Continually challenging yourself to find a better viewpoint should be key to all of your photo taking. Every single scene or situation is different from the rest and you will need to find the best position each time. There is no formula or standard when trying to find the best viewpoint and there isn’t always time. What you need to cement in your mind is that each time you take an image be aware, take your time, and think. And above all, be prepared to experiment and practice.