Composition is not just about positioning subjects in your shot – but sometimes is more about positioning yourself as a photographer in order to make a more pleasing arrangement of subjects in your frame.
I learned this principle for myself back in a high school photography class where my teacher pointed out that every portrait I took was taken from a standing position. This meant any time I took a shot of someone seated – I was looking down on them – not always a flattering and engaging look.
Height is one way to alter your perspective as a photographer. In many cases a shot taken from or just below the eye level of your subject is ideal and creates a more intimate shot. However mixing it up can also leave you with a creative and interesting perspective.
Looking down on someone looking up at you can also be powerful – and looking up from the ground at someone can dramatically alter the look and feel of the shot also.
Of course shooting height isn’t the only element you can change. The distance between you and your subject is another factor worth experimenting with. Shooting from a distance can show your subject in their environment – while shooting up close and tightly framing your shot can help to isolate them from a distracting background.
One last way to alter the composition of an image by moving yourself as the photographer is to move around your subject. While shooting a portrait from in front of a person is probably the most sensible place to start in most instances – a side view (portrait) or even shooting from behind can create some interesting shots.
Many times as photographers using cameras with zoom lenses we can get a little lazy with composition – allowing it to be a matter of focal length – but it’s good to remind yourself that being a little more mobile and altering your shooting perspective can add a lot to an image.