The Perfect Viewpoint pt 1

The following set of tutorials draw on the compositional elements of images taken in a variety of settings across the world. They vary in their content, style and impact. What they all have in common is that each photographer has carefully selected the best viewpoint in order to emphasise the key elements within the frame, and to generate the desired emotional reaction in the viewer.

There are lots of things we all struggle with as photographers. Our subjects may be moving too rapidly to record a sharp image, or perhaps the failing light is presenting us with tough decisions. We can’t control the weather and sometimes we only get the one opportunity to take our picture.

But we can always take a little time to choose the best viewpoint, or the location and position of the camera when the shutter is fired. Every photograph ever taken has a viewpoint. Most photographers are not conscious of the benefits that can be gained from finding an unusual viewpoint, so many family holiday shots are taken with the photographer standing directly in front of the image, and with the camera at eye level.

The following tutorials illustrate some of the ways we can add strength and impact to our images by consciously choosing the best viewpoint for each photograph. I hope you find them useful.

‘Morgan Waddington’ taken by Maurice Wilson

You need to know how to best control movement in your image to be a successful sports photographer. Your viewpoint is also key. At a racing circuit it is easier to photograph vehicles coming around a tight corner. They are moving more slowly, and the vehicle and the driver can look dramatic when completing a tight turn. However in this image the classic car is travelling much more slowly, and the photographer is able to capture all the detail.

A telephoto lens increases the size of the subject in the frame, and the large aperture has reduced the visual impact of the distracting background. In both situations you need to choose your viewpoint well in advance.

‘Canal Cycling Manchester’ taken by Maurice Wilson

Architecture and landscapes, on the other hand, offer a lot more freedom in selecting your viewpoint. Often the best viewpoints are found during the process of exploring the area. The image above has a colourful, almost childlike quality. The carefully chosen viewpoint illustrates how new aesthetic buildings can be successfully developed on land previously used for industrial or commercial purposes; the two bridges provide the link with the past.

The leading lines emerging from the bottom corners of the frame take our eye immediately to the cyclist positioned two thirds of the way across the image. These converging lines generate a strong sense of perspective. The photographer has also created a series of triangles within the frame. Triangles are the most dynamic shape within an image and they will always add impact to your photograph.