It's a well-known fact that an image can speak a thousand words and for decades artists have been using photography to tell stories and portray complex emotions with a single still image.
Although a huge part of photography storytelling is achieved with lighting, different backgrounds, models and props, one of the most important features of a photograph is the angle at which the image was taken.
From low angles that show the subject to be powerful and domineering to high angles that can make the subject seem small and weak, the type of angle used in your photography can make or break the story you are trying to tell.
Read our guide and discover the importance of photography camera angles, the different types of camera angles and how to use them in your photography to tell a story.
What are Photography Camera Angles?
The camera angle marks the specific location at which the camera is placed to take a picture. Where the camera is placed in relation to the subject can affect the way the viewer perceives the subject.
Shot size refers to how big or small the frame is in relation to the subject. Does the subject fill the frame, or are they far away and barely visible? Choose your camera shot based on how much you want to include in your photo.
Why are Camera Angles Important?
Photography camera angles are important in defining voice, presence and visual purpose. They’re a subtle tool, with a major impact. The camera angle and shot size chosen can alter the image and tell a completely different story.
Trying new shots and experimenting with camera angles will prevent your photo collection from becoming boring and uninspired. Even a slight variation to the way you tilt your camera can make a huge difference in the resulting image.
Types of Photography Camera Angles and When to Use Them
1. Eye-Level Camera Angle
The simplest and most commonly used angle is the eye-level angle. By using this neutral angle, you can get a really close-up image of your subject.
The eye-level angle is perfect for conveying emotion and picking up facial detail and expression. Shooting eye-level photographs will make your pictures appear more natural, as it’s similar to what you would actually see.
However, using this angle all the time might leave your pictures looking a little dull.
2. Low Angle Photography
Choosing a low-angle shot requires looking up at your subject from below their eye level, and shooting upwards (this might involve sitting down or squatting).
The low angle is great for making your subject seem bigger, closer, taller, and wider. It also conveys a sense of depth to your photograph. This unique perspective is commonly used in films to make a character or scene seem dominating or epic.
3. High Angle Shot
The high angle shot is, unsurprisingly, the opposite of a low angle. To achieve a high angle, either tilt your camera downwards or make sure you’re a few inches above your subject and shoot looking down on them.
High angle shots can significantly alter the impression of your photos, making your subject seem smaller and the surroundings appear more vast. The perspective of a high angle can result in a much more dramatic picture.
4. Bird’s-Eye View Angle
A more extreme version of the high angle is the bird’s-eye view angle. This is when you need to be positioned so that you’re looking down over your subject.
The bird’s-eye view angle works really well for including lots of detail in your shot. However, it can be hard to get a real bird’s-eye view without a ladder!
This angle is perfect for taking photographs of food or a still-life arrangement on a table.
5. Dutch Angle Shot
The Dutch angle is a camera shot with a tilt on the camera's roll axis. Also known as the Dutch tilt or canted angle, this shot produces a viewpoint mirroring a tilt of the head.
The Dutch angle is a cinematic technique, used to portray a sense of uneasiness or tension. With roots in German Expressionism, it’s often used in street style photography.
6. Close-Up Shot
Close-up photographs refer to a tightly cropped image that shows your subject up close, with much more detail than the human eye would perceive.
A typical close-up camera shot would include your subject’s face from the forehead to their chin. Or, it can focus on one specific detail. This type of shot would be taken using an eye level camera angle, to capture the facial features perfectly.
7. Long Angle Shot
Long shots are one of the best ways to identify your subject in relation to their background (showing a person standing in front of a famous landmark, for example).
More can be included in the long shot, from surroundings to people. The long camera shot is ideal for capturing whole-body images and groups of people and is great for filming action sequences.
8. Medium Shot Camera Angle
In between the long shot and the close-up, is the medium shot. Medium shots typically show the subject from their head to their waist. These shots are great for capturing both the facial expressions and body language of your subject.
Medium camera shots also work well for photographing people alongside whatever background they’re in. As neither the subject nor the background dominates the shot, it allows us to focus on both of them when looking at the image.
Final Thoughts on Camera Angles in Photography
The way you choose to position your camera, and where you decide to place yourself in relation to the image, can completely change the resulting photo, as demonstrated above. Choose the story you want to tell, and then pick the best angle to do so. If you’re still unsure on the approach to use, why not try them all, and see which viewpoint works best.
Open House Pictures offer a variety of photography services alongside our signature video production services. This includes commercial photography, product photography, headshots and portraits, as well as events and lifestyle photography.
If you’re looking to experiment with your own photography, head over to the Harrison Cameras website. Here you’ll find a range of fantastic products to suit your needs, from cameras and lighting to lenses and tripods.