Want to change the way you, and everyone else, looks at your mobile photography? Change your perspective. It’s a fairly simple process. Rather than taking pictures the “traditional” way—at eye level—find some new angles to make your pictures more interesting and unique.
Shooting from a low angle is easy and it offers an entirely new perspective on your subject. Don’t be afraid of getting dirty because the best shots will be the ones where you do find yourself with some dirt on your knees or bottom. Forget about all that, though, and focus on the interesting angle you have discovered by getting your mobile camera really close to the ground or better yet, on the ground, level with or looking up at your subject.
Use the foreground (out of focus) to lead the viewer to your subject in the background—or place your subject in the foreground with the background out of focus. Just tap on your screen where you want to direct the focus and enjoy the results.
Another aspect of looking up at your subject is really looking up at your subject, like straight up. You can lie on your back to accomplish this or just stand and shoot straight up above your head at buildings, trees and the like. In fact, as long as you are looking straight up, try resting your smartphone up against that same building or tree—or whatever it is you are taking a picture of. Talk about a unique angle.
Looking down on your subject (metaphorically speaking, of course) is another way to provide a new and unique angle. You don’t need to climb to the top of a building to accomplish this, although that is one possibility.
Instead, just find a way to get above your subject, whether you are standing on something that gives you a lift or if you are just naturally taller than your subject. It could be as simple as looking down into a coffee cup, maybe even one that you are holding, with your feet and ground included for added depth. Let’s call it a “sorta selfie.” Just be careful not to try this with portraits. It’s typically a less-than-flattering angle.
Adding some foreground to an image adds depth and leads the viewer into the picture. It draws them to the subject. Sometimes it’s leading lines, sometimes it’s simply whatever is in the foreground. This works when looking up at your subject, looking down at your subject, or even looking from one side to the other at your subject. Here’s an example using the always valuable rule-of-thirds principle. Let’s say your subject is in the middle of your picture.
Rather than shooting straight on with nothing in the foreground, try including something on the side or bottom that leads the viewer to that subject.
Reflections are a great way to offer a new perspective on your subject. You just need to train your eye to look for them. It can be a puddle in a city street, a pristine lake in the middle of nowhere, a pair of mirrored sunglasses or the window of a building—reflections offer powerful ways of providing new perspectives.
And guess what? The previous examples apply here as well. By combining different perspectives, your pictures will be even more interesting. For example, much of the time you will be looking down into a reflection, like a puddle, but what if you got your mobile camera really close to that puddle and still captured the reflection? Experiment with different angles to see what works best for each different situation.
Try framing your subject to draw more attention to it. Use something in the foreground, from a manmade object like a fence or a door to something more natural, like some trees, to frame your subject.
Shoot through an object or window
If you have a clear object or a window, try shooting through it with your subject on the other side. For added effect, try shooting through a window on a rainy day. Focus on the raindrops on the window with your subject blurred, but still very visible, in the background.
Use a Lens … or Don’t
Perspective is not about using a third-party lens that provides a “new view,” although it can accomplish that. Rather, it’s about the position, the angle. A macro lens, for instance, certainly offers a new perspective—it’s really close up—but you can still get creative with the angles. Again, combining different perspectives makes your pictures even more interesting.
Your smartphone is always with you. Use that to your advantage and always be on the lookout for new and interesting perspectives when taking pictures with your smartphone. You, and everyone who looks at your photos, will be glad you did.
Writing & photos by: David Kindervater of iPhonePhotoLab.com.