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6 Ways to Take WOW Photos in Less Than an Hour

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If you’re like most photographers, nothing gets you more excited than a new tip or trick that can help you make your photographs more awe inspiring. The problem is that a lot of these processes can take some time to learn and execute correctly. Pretty quickly you realize that it may take you more than a few tries to master the new technique to become a better photographer.

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A mundane parking lot light stand can become something wondrous.

You’re also busy with more than just photography to take care of, and with instant gratification pervading all aspects of our lives, who wouldn’t appreciate a few SIMPLE photo strategies that provide immediate results?

Forget about aperture and shutter speed, focal length, ISO, and all the technical stuff for now. If you use the techniques in this article, alone, or mix and match, I guarantee you’ll learn how to take WOW photos in less than an hour. I use my “Snapshots to WOW Shots” process with many of my photography classes, from grade one kids who’ve never seen a camera before, to seasoned professionals who need to inject a quick fix into their  photographic repertoire. It works for everyone, guaranteed. Give it a try!

Method One: Bird’s Eye View

In our day to day lives we see the world from a height of about five to six feet. To create a WOW shot you need to alter that perspective. Show your viewers a point of view they don’t normally see. Just about any subject can be transformed into a WOW if you shoot it with your camera pointing straight down. This is what is called the bird’s eye view.

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Looking straight down on antique silverware – a different point of view.

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Shot by one of my grade 4 students – atop the play structure, pointing the camera straight down. 

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A crazy abstract shot looking down at colored pages in a binder.

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An herbal still life shot through a glass coffee table, straight down.

Method Two: Worms Eye View

Similarly, not too many of us spend our days down on the ground. So shoot from a very low angle, and point your camera up, or just explore the world from the point of view of a worm (down on your belly!) and mundane things look a whole lot more interesting. Instant WOW shots, from the worm’s eye view.

These shots usually have the added benefit of helping to eliminate distracting backgrounds such as buildings, tree,s or other objects that you don’t want in your image. Bonus!

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Feeling so small…the worm’s eye view.

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One of my school students shot this one – taking the worm’s eye view literally, but it’s a very freaky WOW Shot.

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Taken lying on the floor of the lobby looking up at the top of the staircase. 

Method Three: Shoot at an Angle

Just as our five foot world gives us a consistently average perspective, it also provides us with horizontal lines and vertical angles. We see the world this way 90% of the time, and there’s nothing particularly WOW in that. But give your camera a twist; a 45 degree angle can add dynamism and drama, instantly!  Just make sure that it’s a big enough angle that it’s clear you did it on purpose, and not by mistake.

Buildings, trees, large objects, and even people look great with a bit of angular rotation when you want to make a point or add impact.

A bit of an angle - on purpose, give the image a more dynamic feel.

A bit of an angle – on purpose, gives the image a more dynamic feel.

A little "off kilter" makes us pay more attention.

A little “off kilter” makes us pay more attention.

Method Four: Get the Sun Behind Your Subject

There are all sorts of fabulously detailed techniques for shooting silhouettes, rim lighting, and other back-lighting effects. But really all you need to get an instant WOW Shot is to either place your subject so that the sun or light source is directly behind them, with their head or body blocking the main point of light. Shoot in manual mode and be sure your flash is off.  Point and expose for the sun, then recompose with the sun directly behind your subject.  Whether it’s an animal or a person or an object, use that subject to block the sun, and you’ll have a winner.

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Drama abounds in this simple shot – just a quick iPhone grab during a school photo class.

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Method Five: Use Shadows

Nothing tells a story more than shadows – they are ethereal, transient, and mystical. Incorporate shadows into your image, or shoot only the shadows. They always tell an intriguing story, and create a captivating image.

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Abstract or editorial, the shadow knows.

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Do you know what’s happening here – the shadows are a riddle and the answer.

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The Ultimate WOW Shots

The ultimate WOW shots are created when you use one of more of these techniques by combining elements, angles, and points of view.

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Combining the worm’s eye view AND the sun behind the subject.

A simple street scene is so much more dynamic with long shadows.

Combine shadows with the sun behind the subject. A simple street scene is so much more dynamic with long shadows.

Combine a bird's eye view with shadows. It adds interest and drama.

Combine a bird’s eye view with shadows. It adds interest and drama.

A worm's eye view and the sun behind the subject. Simple. Wow!

A worm’s eye view and the sun behind the subject. Simple. Wow!

Apply what you have learned

To wrap it all up, these five easy methods will give you dramatic results, and if you’re already proficient with a camera and have a bit of knowledge about composition, color theory, and light, you’ll be shooting like a rock-star photographer in less than an hour –  including the time it took to read this article.  If you’re already a skilled shooter, give these a try and it will help simplify your photographic life while adding more finesse to your portfolio.

Show me your WOW shots, I’d love to see how you put this into action! Share in the comments below.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Alex Morrison is a professional fine art and nature photographer, accredited by The Professional Photographers of Canada. She was the Canadian Photographic Artist of the Year in 2009. She teaches photography, runs workshops and online classes on fine art and nature photography, as well as infrared and iphone photography. Her educational website with photography tips is at nature-photography-central.com. View her art photography portfolio here. Alex has a coupon code for her Infrared Post Processing e-book, use DPSTKS to save $12.00.

  • Guest

    These did not attach properly to my previous post.

  • glennsphotos

    Ive been in photography for a few decades and believe that this was a wonderful article. This is just a good reinforcement for practicing photographers (who sometimes fall into a stagnent set of rules and get lazy) and a good rule for beginning photographers who mostly photograph from eye level with the sun behind the back. Thank You

  • CC

    One of the best dps posts I’ve read. And the one with the snarkiest comments! Unbelievable.

  • Thank you for a very useful article. Your principles/methods sound simplistic, but they are very challenging when one tries to apply them in situ. I found them helpful and stimulating. I have tried both (i) the Bird’s Eye View and (ii) the Worm’s Eye View during my visit to the CN Tower together with my second grandson. Below are the results. Certainly not “wow”, but it was great fun and my grandchildren
    like those snaps.
    Thank you. Matt http://www.konniandmatt.blogspot.com
    .

  • Cheryl

    I agree with John. Just because you don’t agree doesns’t mean you need to be insulting. Use language which instructs and criticises in a constructive way. I feel the article was designed ( text and pics combined) to ask the reader to think of a different perspective, and for me it worked.

  • Hi everyone – while we do understand that everyone has a different opinion of what is a “wow” photo this other article by Alex might help in making comments about images. Try and post constructive comments that are helpful and explain why you feel an image is powerful or not. That will help you in looking at your own work as well. Being able to dissect what is good, what’s working, and what’s not working is half of the battle. Hope that helps.

    http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-use-the-art-of-self-reflection-to-make-better-photos/

  • Staci Separ Goble

    I do to John. People are rude…..and egotistical, it seems. I’m a beginner, I liked it.

  • Staci Separ Goble

    Good lord. Just read the article and if your not interested move on. If It’s not one I like, I go to another. I thought it was great and helpful. Quit you crying people. If ya don’t like it, or your too “advanced”. Move on. Ms. Hildebrandt your DPS tips and tutorials are fantastic. Keep up the good work.

  • Staci Separ Goble

    Which site do you write for? Oh……..right.

  • Mrs. S Coconut

    Oh, yeah, because Mrs. S coconut is totally my real name.

    I’m sure I’ll get over your lame attempt at an insult to my mad blog writing skills or whatever when i look at my checks from selling photos.

    Oh, and the royalties from my published books, but you know, whatever, I don’t write for this one site, so I must be nothing.

  • Staci Separ Goble

    Your opinions and you attitude are just alike. They both suck. But who cares, you have all those checks and published books. Sure you do, sure. coco is not the word I would use to put in front of nut, you self righteous ……..

  • Staci Separ Goble

    Well said

  • Staci Separ Goble

    😉

  • Mrs. S Coconut

    Congrats. You’ve outed yourself as a psycho. I see hat it’s perfectly okay to insult commenters when they dissent from the opinion of the story, but you won’t get called out for personal attacks, I’m sure. Don’t bother responding, puta, because I’m done with this terrible website.

  • Mrs. S Coconut

    Wow. You’re just being pretty now.

  • Mrs. S Coconut

    But it’s perfectly fine for fans of the article to insult people who weren’t with personal attacks, right? Wow. You approved a controversial and subpar article. Own up to it and stop only defending people who agreed with you.

  • Mrs. S Coconut

    Nice how she replied to you and not the one doing the attacks. I’m done with this site.

  • Mrs. S Coconut

    You should show us a shot you did on your off the shelf Nikon in auto mode.

    FYI, I shot that on film when i was 9 and I posted it a long time ago to show the rainbow. I didn’t choose to post it here. You’re just petty and bitter. But you don’t care because you think you’re hot stuff insulting a random person on the internet

  • Thanks Staci, I hope you keep reading with us

  • Perhaps a better title would have been put MORE wow into your photos? I understand all the viewpoints on this one and appreciate the constructive comments.

  • Staci Separ Goble

    Well, I never! You you Puta! Bwahahahahah

  • Staci Separ Goble

    Screw you and whatever it is your talking about….guest

  • Staci Separ Goble

    Thanks, I am pretty.

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