Monday, December 7, 2009

What's my angle?

"Angle" is a term commonly seen and heard in journalism. Generally, when we think of stories and words, angle is the focus of, or approach to, a story: So-and-so wrote her story from a human-interest angle.

In photography, angle is a more literal term, usually describing the physical perspective from the photographer's point-of-view. Angles are extremely important. Perspective can change the way we feel about a subject. A picture from below can make a subject seem more powerful. A picture from above can make a subject seem more vulnerable. When we view a subject eye-to-eye, we see the subject as a peer and can make emotional connections.

Sometimes people chuckle when they see me lying prone with my face pressed against the floor or ground, or climbing a tree or ladder with my cameras dangling precariously. Fact is, most of us view the world around us from a standing or seated position. The world looks different from ground level or from high above. When photographers explore different angles, it allows viewers to see things in new and interesting ways.

Trying different angles is a great way to clean up busy backgrounds that can distract from your subject, too. Sometimes moving a few inches to the left or right, bending those knees, or stepping up on a chair can make the difference between a busy, confusing photograph and one that really communicates your intent.

So all you budding photographers, don't wear your good clothes when you're shooting -- it's all about the angles!

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