How to select a viewpoint in portrait photography

  • Taking a good shot of people depends on many factors. One of the most important is where you take the picture form. It is difficult to set down hard and fast rules about this, and obviously it depends on the situation. But one or two general points are always worth bearing in mind.

  • If you choose high viewpoint to photograph a person full length this will have the effect of shortening them. But if you kneel down you will exaggerate their height. A quick look in any fashion magazine shows many example of this stance, with the models that appear to have legs that go on and on. With young children and babies it may be necessary to get down on the ground and choose an extremely low viewpoint for an effective shot.

  • When photographing groups or crowds of people it is generally best if you can remove yourself from the throng and view them from a distance, or perhaps from above.

  • At a special event you may be able to emphasize the detail of a uniform or costume to make an individual or small group stand out from the rest.

  • When you go in close the viewpoint you take can emphasize or exaggerate a personís expression. But remember that if you go too close with a wide angle lens it is very easy to get distortion, which may not look too flattering.

  • Your next consideration is exposure. If people are moving about rapidly TTL metering may be an asset, but when taking shots by this method beware: the meter is reading for the general scene and not for a predominantly dark or light area which may be the centre of interest of the picture. You may need to compensate for this to get a correct exposure.

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