DSLR Photography 101: Point of View

Megan O'Neill


Over the past few months, we’ve explored a variety of topics related to DSLR photography, from ISO and aperture to composition, as part of our DSLR Photography 101 series (you can check out all the posts here). Today we’ll be diving into point of view (POV).

Point of view in photography refers to how and where the camera is positioned and how it affects the way your subject is viewed in the resulting photo. You’ll usually want to photograph your subject from eye level, or just above eye level — as we explained in our post on cropping and framing, shooting from too high or low of an angle can make your subject look distorted, since things in a photograph that are closest to you appear larger, and those that are further away appear smaller.

Viewers connect with a subject through their eyes, so shooting at eye level will make the viewer feel as if they are on the same plane or level with the subject and will lead to an increased feeling of connection, as in the photo below taken by our Consumer Customer Owner, Beth Forester (who is also a professional photographer).

POV Kristin Gannon

That being said, there are times where shooting from a non-traditional angle, or point of view, can be effective. For instance, Beth says that when she’s photographing children she usually likes to get down to their level and shoot straight into their eyes to connect the viewer with the subject, but she also likes to take a few shots looking down on the child. She says, “The result gives the viewer the feeling of the child’s sense of wonder as they look up into the camera,” as you can see in action in the photograph below.

POV Baby

Shooting up at your subject from below has the reverse effect — rather than conveying innocence, it conveys a message of strength and power, as the subject appears to loom above the viewer. This is an effect Beth says works well when photographing athletes, as you can see below.

POV Football

SOMETHING TO TRY: If you feel like you’re in a photography rut, Beth suggests the following creative exercise: Take time to shoot from a different point of view. Take an hour and pretend you are a small child and photograph the world around you from their perspective. You’ll be amazed at the images you can create once you step out of your comfort zone.

If you try the above exercise, or experiment with POV in general, we’d love to see what you come up with! Share your photos with us (or even better, an Animoto slideshow video of your photos) on Facebook or Twitter.

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