Adjust your camera angle for more impactful portrait shots
James Paterson shows how different viewpoints can improve your portraits
When composing a portrait, several key questions usually pop up: What should we include or exclude? How should we pose or arrange our subject? What is the light doing? How will our aperture and focal length influence the composition? Much of this happens on a subconscious level – after all, composing a picture is as much about intuition and feeling as it is about following the ‘rule of thirds’. But if we stop for a second and
think about these points, we might just end up with a much better photo.
In portrait photography, choice of camera angle is crucial, as not only do we have the freedom to move around our subject – perhaps ducking down, getting up high, or shifting left or right to get the best angle – we can also change the subject’s position.
Over the next couple of pages we’ll explore the possibilities of camera angles. Let’s begin with how a non-photographer might approach the scene – perhaps resulting in something like the inset image of the red leaves above. Sure, it captures the autumnal colour, but it’s messy, the subject is central and the leaves look slightly past their best. A slight change of angle is all that’s needed to completely change the scene – no fancy lighting, no special kit, just sound composition skills. Simply by moving to the side and bringing the lens in very close to the wall of leaves, we get a more professionallooking portrait, with a beautifully blurred foreground.
Experiment with angles for better portraits Time needed One hour Skill level Easy Kit needed Medium telephoto zoom lens