When we first start shooting photos, our natural instinct is to pull the camera up to our eye, point at the subject and click away. Easy enough, right? That may work in sometimes, but in many cases you will want to get on the same level as your subject, if possible. Get out of the habit of standing and shooting at your eye-level for smaller subjects.
This mostly comes into play when photographing kids and animals. If you take a picture of your toddler from your standing position, there is very little interest there. It looks like you’d expect it to. A top down shot of the top of your kid’s head, which you have the pleasure of looking at all day long anyway. But, things change dramatically when you get down on their level. You can capture more emotion in your photograph because it makes the image feel more personal, like you’re up close and personal with the subject.
The shot will look so much better than an image looking down at the subject. I’ve found myself laying on the ground in less than ideal conditions to get the perfect shot sometimes. This could go for things like flowers, dogs, and other small animals like snakes and lizards. Being able to get down low and shoot from their height immerses the viewer as if they were right there with the subject.
Most of all, shooting at your subjects eye-level will just create a sense of emotion and feeling within the frame, rather than feeling like a snapshot. Being able to get a good read on the eyes can make a break a photograph. Sometimes all you have to do is just get on a knee and shoot from there to make a winning image. Try laying on your stomach the next time you take a photo of your dog or cat. Not only will you be on a lower angle, but you may get some really cool reactions out of your pet when they see you laying down! I know as soon as I get on the floor my dogs are constantly trying to lay on me and lick me to pieces. These can make for some really cool portraits of your pets!
Take our featured photography for this post. If that same shot was made from standing above the dog, you’d never get the same feeling from that shot as you do this one here, with the camera literally on the ground level. Something about the dog’s eyes just speak to you as a viewer.
Give it a shot the next time you are photographing something that is smaller than you. Try to break yourself of the natural habit to just stand and shoot from where you’re standing. I’d be willing to bet that you’re going to get a much stronger feel out of your images once you learn to get low and shoot on their level!