To make more unique street photos, shoot with your camera high in the air, pointing downwards:
In a prior article, I wrote about the low-angle/low-perspective street photography technique. The idea is that when you shoot from a very low angle, you make your subjects look ‘larger than life’.
The interesting thing is when you do the opposite:
Hold the camera super high in the air, and point it downwards, and use your LCD screen to frame your photos.
The reason why this technique works well: it simplifies your photos and backgrounds.
Often, you cannot control your position in the streets. You cannot suddenly run to the left or the right. But you can change the position of your camera (crouching down low, and shooting upwards // or holding your camera super high in the air, and shooting downwards)
Shooting from high over-passes
When you are shooting from overpasses, or from building roofs, and you shoot looking downwards– it is an easy way to capture a more unique perspective.
So as a tip, try to climb up really high in buildings. Shoot from high over-passes and looking downwards.
If you’re inside a skyscraper, look out the window, and shoot downwards.
Also when you’re shooting from a high perspective and looking downwards, try to make sure there is no clutter or distractions in your frame:
To simplify your photos, shoot from cross-walks, and while you’re shooting– keep the corners of your frame very simple.
Looking at the above photo I shot in Tokyo, I saw simple 4 circle shapes in the hair of the woman. I juxtaposed it against the diagonal lines in the street, by holding my RICOH GR II higher in the air, and pointing downwards and shooting.
Shooting with your camera high in the air and pointing downwards (while looking at your LCD screen) is also an effective technique when shooting portraits. I often do this when photographing Cindy, to eliminate distractions from the background.
Shooting down stairs
Also the benefit of shooting from a higher angle/perspective downwards is that you often have leading lines that point to your subject.
Also a tip:
When shooting down stairs, tilt your camera (dutch angle), to exaggerate a diagonal composition.
Another tip: when you’re walking down stairs, and you see interesting shadows, shoot your selfie, and try to make a dynamic composition with the shadows:
Shoot a lot while you’re walking down the stairs, because you never know which version of the photograph will look best:
The good thing about photographing kids:
They are naturally at a lower plane from you, thus the perspective will look unusual.
If you want to simplify the photo, just point downwards. By ‘decapitating‘ the head of your subject, you make the photograph more open-ended, and mysterious.
NEXT: High Angle Assignments
- Climb more high buildings, and shoot downwards to make more epic photos.
- Experiment shooting street photography by intentionally holding your camera super high-angle, and pointing downwards. Use your LCD screen to compose and frame your scene.
- Always strive to simplify your photos
Master composition for yourself:
Photography Composition Concepts
- 5 Simple Photography Composition Tips
- How to Compose a Photograph
- Edge Detection Photography Composition
- Vector (Arrow) Photography Composition
- Clear and Obscure (Chiaroscuro) Photography Composition
Photography Composition Tips
- How to Photograph Motion
- Photography Composition: Which Direction is Your Subject Looking?
- Blocking Technique in Photography
- How to Shoot a Triangle Photography Composition
- How to shoot a golden triangle composition in street photography
- 8 Simple Curve Composition Tips
- 5 Simple Henri Cartier-Bresson Composition Tips
- Foot Zoom
- Photography Composition: Light and Dark
- Street Photography Composition Lesson #16: Scale
- Shape, Arrangement, Position (S.A.P.) and Contour, Inter-Contact, Position (C.I.A.) in Photography
- 10 Tips How to Fill the Frame in Photography
- Look Up! 16 Photography Composition Perspective Tips
- 5 Simple Street Photography Composition Tips
- Depth Perception
- Golden Angle Composition in Street Photography
- Photographer as an “Arranging Artist”
- Dynamic Off-Center Street Photography Compositions
- 5 Essential Composition Tips in Photography
- Red and Green Composition Color Theory For Photographers
- The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Color Photography
- Opponent Process Color Theory For Photographers
- Color Theory For Photographers
- Color Manual
- How to Shoot Color Street Photography
Learn From the Masters of Composition
- 10 Lessons Matisse Can Teach You About Art and Life
- Henri Cartier-Bresson Composition
- 10 Timeless Lessons Edward Weston Can Teach You About Photography
- 10 Inspirational Sergio Larrain Compositions
- 5 Henri Cartier-Bresson Photography Composition Lessons
Dynamic Photography Composition 101
- Introduction to Dynamic Photography Composition
- How to Visually Analyze Your Photography Compositions
- Dynamic Tension: Opponent Based Theory For Photography
- Opponent Process Color Theory For Photographers
- Dynamic Photography Composition 101: Figure to Ground
Dynamic Photography Composition Tips
- 7 Simple Photography Composition Tips
- How to Make Aggressive Photography Compositions
- 10 Dynamic Photography Composition Tips
- How to Make More Dynamic Picture Compositions
- Unorthodox Photography Composition Techniques
- Deconstructed: Saigon Eric Kim Photos
Take your composition to the next level:
- Gestalt Theory
- Center Eye
- Dutch Angle
- Deep Depth
- Leading Lines
- Figure to Ground
- Fibonacci Spiral
- Composition by Eric Kim
Street Photography Composition 101
For distilled lessons on composition, read the free ebook: “The Street Photography Composition Manual.”
Further articles to improve your compositions in photography:
- Composition Lesson #1: Triangles
- Composition Lesson #2: Figure-to-ground
- Composition Lesson #3: Diagonals
- Composition Lesson #4: Leading Lines
- Composition Lesson #5: Depth
- Composition Lesson #6: Framing
- Composition Lesson #7: Perspective
- Composition Lesson #8: Curves
- Composition Lesson #9: Self-Portraits
- Composition Lesson #10: Urban Landscapes
- Composition Lesson #11: “Spot the not”
- Composition Lesson #12: Color Theory
- Composition Lesson #13: Multiple-Subjects
- Composition Lesson #14: Square Format
Learn compositional theory:
- Why is Composition Important?
- Don’t Think About Composition When You’re Shooting Street Photography
- How to Use Negative Space
- Street Photography Composition 101
- The Theory of Composition in Street Photography: 7 Lessons from Henri Cartier-Bresson
Compositional lessons from the masters of art
Golden Diagonal Composition