In this article you’re going to discover a simple secret to getting a more dramatic perspective in your photos. While this technique can be applied to any type of photography, it works particularly well on a mobile device, and I often used it to improve my smartphone photos.
But before we get started, let me ask you something. Do you remember from what angle you took your last smartphone photo? The chances are you didn’t think about the angle that much.
Just because most people don’t pay much attention to the angle, the vast majority of photos are taken from the height of adult chest or face. After all, that’s how we see the world, and it’s the most convenient way to hold the camera. So why look any further?
It turns out that you can dramatically improve your photos simply by changing the angle from which they are taken, and the easiest way to do that is by shooting from a lower position. Since we’re so used to seeing the world from the height of a standing adult, this little trick can make almost any photo more interesting by changing the perspective from which it portrays the world.
By getting down on your knees (or lower), you can not only change the angle from which the photo is taken, but also make the foreground a lot more compelling by emphasizing interesting details that would not be seen otherwise, like the tall grass in the photo below.
Getting your smartphone lower also allows you to make the perspective a lot more dramatic, which is best seen in photos that have roads or other linear structures extending into the distance.
If you look at the pavement in the following photo, you’ll see how lowering the smartphone helped me exaggerate the perspective beyond what looks natural to the human eye.
When taking photos on the beach or in a large open field, I often like to position my smartphone as low as physically possible, because that allows me to show my subject with nothing but the sky in the background, which of course makes the subject stand out a lot more.
While you can use this trick with any camera, it works particularly well for smartphones that have the camera lens close to the edge such as the iPhone. The iPhone allows you to place the lens less than an inch above the ground, which is something you can’t always do with a larger camera.
I generally avoid placing my smartphone directly on the ground, so I put my middle and index fingers in between the smartphone and the ground, and use my thumb to take a photo using the volume buttons, which you can do on iPhone and some other smartphone models.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, try holding your smartphone the same way less than an inch above water (but please don’t blame me if anything goes wrong). That way you can make even tiny waves look massive as I did in the photo above (the colors were isolated in ColorSplash app).
This is how I created some of my favorite sunset photos, including the following photo where the silhouette of a woman is placed against the beautiful sunset sky, and the reflection of the scene is unpredictably distorted by tiny waves in the otherwise calm sea.
In case there are no waves and the water is perfectly calm (in a puddle, for example), you can enhance the photo by throwing a small pebble into the water, which will also create interesting distortions in your reflection photos.
The next time you’re taking photos with your smartphone (or any other camera), I want you to think not only about the content of the photos, but also about the angle from which they are taken. More often than not, getting down on your knees (or lower) will make your photos more interesting and allow you to capture the world from a different perspective than the one you normally see.
Emil Pakarklis is a passionate iPhoneographer and the founder of iPhone Photography School, a blog about taking better photos with the iPhone. You can get in touch with Emil on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter