5 Minutes for Photography: Creative Camera Angles

by CarrieB

If there is one thing we moms all have in common — we love to have tons of great photos of our kids!

So, whether you are fanatical about taking photos or you are holding that new digital camera desperately wishing you wish you knew how to make it take those great shots you want, this new column will give you some ideas to inject extra creativity into your photography.

We’ll focus on simple things that anyone, with any camera, can do. And there will be lots of examples along the way…

Creative Camera Angles

Let’s start this series with the most important element of a good photo — composition. By which I mean, basically, “Make it look interesting!”

For a long time, 90% of my photos were taken like this:

Occasionally they came out really cute. But, after a while… all the photos pretty much look the same.

So, I challenged myself with, “No more boring photos!” The camera was allowed to shoot from anywhere BUT at my eye-level standing a few feet away from the subject.

And I discovered two new ideas that totally changed the composition, which I’ll talk about here.

First, try shooting down at your subject from directly above.

Digital cameras nowadays make this really easy, because you don’t have to hold the camera up to your eye all the time to see through the viewfinder — you can hold it out at arm’s length, tilted down a bit, and still get a good idea of what you’re shooting from the preview on the back of the camera.

This picture is one of my favorites… the all-white background was thanks to a recent snowfall, one of the first our son had ever seen. He’s still a bit uncertain about the whole business, as you can tell by his expression.

When you’re shooting at arm’s length from above the subject, it’s important to:

  • To start with, pick a subject who’s short. (Little kids are ideal.)
  • Always have them look up at you! (Otherwise you’ll just see a head of hair.)
  • Zoom your camera out as wide-angle as possible, but move the camera fairly close to the subject. This will emphasize the unusual angle, and also make it easier for you to keep the subject in the frame.
  • For shooting several people together, you can take picture by leaning over a balcony or stair railing and shooting down toward the floor below. This can make a fun family portrait, like this one we took of some friends:
  • Give this a try, and see how it works for you!


Next, try shooting up at your subject from below.
(This usually means “ground level”, as anything lower than that takes a bit too much effort!)

Tilt the camera up slightly so that you don’t get too much of the ground in your photo.
This gives you a completely different viewpoint that normal:

Here, my camera was just an inch or two off the surface of a patch of daisies, angled up to bring in the sky. (On days where there are wispy clouds above, this gives a great effect.)

This works well if the subject is looking away from the camera, for a more candid look.
(Especially if kids are playing and you can take the photo without distracting them.) Like this photo from our son’s 2nd birthday party, VERY excited about having just unwrapped this book:



(He gets his love of books from me…)

For infants and babies, bringing the camera down to their level brings out a lot more of their features and expressions. And a game of “peek-a-boo” can turn into great pictures…



(I keep telling my husband we need to have more kids, if only to diversify our family photos!)


Now, get out your own camera and try out some new ideas. Post some favorites on your own blog, and add it to our Mr. Linky:

And if you like, you can display a 5 Minutes for Photography button in your post to help your readers find more photo posts.

award


Carrie B and her husband Jonathan are Oregon wedding photographers, and you can see more of their recent photos on their photography blog. She’s also a staff reviewer for 5 Minutes for Books, and operates her own book review blog as well!



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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kari February 19, 2009 at 9:52 am

I am SOOO totoally siked about this new column!!!! YAY!! Thanks, can’t wait to try these tips out!! :D

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2 susieshomemade February 19, 2009 at 9:52 am

Those are great tips!! I can’t wait to get my camera out:-)

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3 Shasta February 19, 2009 at 10:04 am

I’m loving this so much!! Thanks! Off to add the button to my blog!

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4 Jen B February 19, 2009 at 10:21 am

Thanks for the new column. I recently got a Cannon Rebel xsi. I would love more tips on photography. I’m going to a wedding in April, I’m using that as a practice run!

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5 Lolli February 19, 2009 at 10:46 am

I love reading other people’s photography tips! Such great reminders! I do a weekly column on my blog about photography, but I am still totally in the learning mode. :)

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6 Terri February 19, 2009 at 12:00 pm

I am a total photo junkie. One visit to the zoo with my mom’s group and I came home with 98 shots – thank goodness for digital!

I am really excited about this new column! Thanks for the tips. It makes me want to get my camera out now!

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7 Hope February 19, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Have you ever played peek -a -boo with a teenager? It’s a riot. You get just as big of smiles if not bigger. Plus some really strange looks from them and their friends to spice things up.

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8 Deanna February 19, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Ooo…I like the above and below angles. I do these as well and what impressive shots that can be had this way.

I have not been very creative lately with my camera…I am feeling the need to be creative again.

Thanks for the tips.

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9 IE Mommy February 19, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Love photography! Swing by and read my tips and see my photos. Thanks for the ‘great’ new feature! I’m blogged and linked!

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10 casual friday everyday February 19, 2009 at 1:37 pm

You ladies are just rocking all the fun memes and things to do!

I love this one. Picking up new tips for taking great photo’s is right up my alley.

Nell

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11 Jennifer, Snapshot February 19, 2009 at 2:10 pm

What great tips. The pictures help as well.

Good job Carrie.

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12 Maddy February 19, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Ooo goodie, a new one. I could do with the all the tips I can get quite frankly. That all makes perfect sense to me and I really like your results. The only tricky bit will be capturing the eye contact as that’s a bit of a hurdle around here.
Cheers

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13 Upstatemomof3 February 20, 2009 at 1:29 am

I just want to say not only are those really great tips but it was so fun doing this today. And because I had it on my mind you made a great memory for me and my kids. Thanks!!!

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14 corrine February 20, 2009 at 8:47 am

love love love your tips and so think y’all should add some more to your darling family, you know just for diversity :)

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15 Angie February 20, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Thanks for the great tips! Can’t wait to try them out. Did you have to lay on the ground to get that picture with the daisy’s and clouds?

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16 Felicia - I Complete Me February 20, 2009 at 1:09 pm

These are some great shots. Maybe even a complete amateur like me can do this.

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17 BlapherMJ February 20, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Love this column! I’m really into photography and these tips are quite useful…

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18 The Happy Housewife February 20, 2009 at 8:19 pm

Great photo tips! I can’t wait to try them out with my kids!
Thanks!
Toni

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19 Shana Wiseman February 21, 2009 at 11:30 am

Love these tips! Thanks so much! :o)

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20 Petula February 21, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Beautiful photos. I especially love the one with the sun/sky… I will have to try that since I have yet to get a good picture of the sky and my kids always get distracted by the camera.

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21 Jen E. February 23, 2009 at 2:43 am

Thanks for the great tips, I’m looking forward to more from this site. Now that I think about it, I do have an “up high looking down” shot that’s one of my faves. I’m going to try to be more intentional about mixing it up!

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22 LCPARSONS February 24, 2009 at 12:12 pm

I have posted the icon on my blog. I love photography and take pics almost everyday. I have always stood at different angles, set my tripod up at different angles to get great shots. I use a step stool, tip toe, stand on stairways, etc. I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with. I will post a couple of pics on my blog soon!!

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23 * TONYA * February 25, 2009 at 11:22 pm

Fantastic tips. Thank you so much.

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24 Tricia February 28, 2009 at 11:55 pm

I’m a picture taking nut. Always looking for new ideas and angles to try. THanks for the tips. Adding the button to my blog so I can stop in for more tips. thanks a bunch. New to Blogging. Luv vistors!

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25 Shannon March 6, 2009 at 1:41 am

I just found this feature and LOVE it! Thank you.

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26 Yago April 16, 2009 at 11:31 am

Thanks so much for your tips!!
Im a teen that is starting in digital photography!!
;D

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27 Randy October 13, 2009 at 8:18 am

I very excited to go try these tips out even though i’m not a mom.

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28 Jayson Sibert April 29, 2010 at 4:43 am

I have visited your site before. Classy boudoir photo. By the way you have a georgous port

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