We’d like to welcome Erik Valind to Photofocus. Be sure to catch his classes at Photoshop World in Atlanta April 8–10.
A lot of forethought goes into making a photograph. We usual need to find a model, select a location, and then lug out the lighting gear… not to mention camera settings and lens selection after everything else is setup. Prior planning like this can ensure that your shoot runs smoothly and you walk away with the images that you set out to create. With everything planned out in advance though you don’t want to comfortably slip into autopilot mode when the time comes to pull the trigger.
Many times during a shoot we start by taking pictures from eye level, and why not? Eye level is how we view the world after all. This is a natural place to begin a shoot but as things warm up make sure to vary the angles that you shoot from. By mixing up your vantage point you can walk away with more interesting photos than you pictured in your mind while planning the shoot to begin with.
In Las Vegas I found a unique looking old hotel just off the main drag. With its open pool deck, old school signage and pastel color scheme I thought it would make a great backdrop for a shoot! After arranging everything and getting to work, I liked the first few images we took, but they just came off as too “normal” for my taste. I wanted to see more of my model and more of the pool at the same time.
To get more of both in the photo I had to change my vantage point. As the model was changing outfits I had an assistant boost me onto the wall surrounding the pool area. When the model reemerged she was surprised to see the lengths that I had gone to for our next setup. It made for a good laugh and quick “this guy must be crazy” kind of look. After shooting for a bit and climbing safely down from the ledge, we reviewed the photos and agreed that the bird’s eye view was absolutely worth the extra effort to get that unique shot.
Next time you go out to shoot bring a step stool or ladder with you. This way no matter what level your climbing skills may be at, you’ll have the option to shoot from a higher vantage point to walk away from you shoot with a variety of different images to show for it.
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