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If you’re getting some sort of formal education in photography, you’re probably being taught a lot of technical and artistic mumbo jumbo. While it is all undeniably necessary, there’s one thing I believe should be the stepping stone of anyone getting serious about using a camera to create cool stuff. I have met art students that couldn’t read a histogram or couldn’t take their camera out of Auto mode. I am perfectly fine with that as long as you know how to do this one thing. That is picking up your camera and hitting the dirt. Crawling if you have to. Or maybe setting up a ladder in the middle of the street and climbing it. Whatever it takes, as long as you keep changing your view point. Your perspective. Photography is about seeing things differently from anyone else. It’s about looking at something or someone in a way no one else has done it before and making a record of it. Go to a crowded place, maybe a boulevard in a big city or a tourist attraction. Look at all the people around you who have a camera strapped to their necks . Notice how they lift it with one or both hands, hold it to their eye and shoot. If you were overly sarcastic, you would go to them , pat them on their back and congratulate them for taking a photo countless of other people could, and probably have taken. But let’s hope you’re not. This is the point though. When you take a photo from a “normal”, eye level while standing, you’re doing something anyone else can do. And they probably do it with their phones as well. You should never be afraid to get down on your knees, or on top of everyone else, or maybe at ground level to achieve a new perspective. It’s a never a guarantee for getting a better photo than you would have by standing, but you owe it to yourself to try and see things differently.
Perspective isn’t something dictated just by focal length. I am six foot one. I know I’m not the tallest guy in the world. I’m not even the tallest I know. Yet just about every photo I take standing sucks. It took me a while to figure out what was wrong, as I am self taught, but when I finally figured it out, I had a look through my older work and could only imagine what a huge difference a lower perspective would have made.
It’s really pointless how many megapixels your camera has, or how many “L” lenses you own if you make no effort to look beyond the obvious. Sometimes it takes a while to find a good angle. Time you haven’t got. If you keep doing it constantly though, you’ll find a way to tell instinctively what works for your subject and what doesn’t. The habit of looking for new angles won’t stick to you over night, but after it does it’ll be among the first things you‘ll start doing when shooting.
Image credit: zigf / 123RF Stock Photo