Magazine article Communication World

Choose Your Vantage Point: Be Selective in Deciding Where to Stand-It Can Determine What Your Photographs Say to Viewers

Magazine article Communication World

Choose Your Vantage Point: Be Selective in Deciding Where to Stand-It Can Determine What Your Photographs Say to Viewers

Article excerpt

Photographers use their vantage point to create a perspective that expresses an idea, tells a story and draws the viewer into an image. The beginner or formula-bound descriptive photographer will always take the most predictable camera position: 8 to 10 feet away from the subject with camera held at eye level. Photographic communicators, on the other hand, will often get down, move up or go entirely around the subject to find the position that creates the most meaning.

Bob Gilka, former director of photography for National Geographic magazine, once said that when he reviewed a photographer's portfolio, he would look first for evidence of a "willingness to bend." Where we stand surely determines what we say.

[ILLUSTRATIONS OMITTED]

In my first example (left), I was able to move well below a man doing tai chi on a monument to Chinas revolution in Shanghai. In doing so, I created an echo effect, linking the interlocked position of his arms to the interlocked hammer and sickle on the wall just below him. By moving to my left, I shifted the man toward the right side of the frame, linking the direction of his tai chi thrust to the flow of the rays coming out of that hammer and sickle emblem. My low vantage point places him directly between the emblem and the Chinese inscription behind him. My perspective not only energizes the image, it also suggests that Chinas past may be very much alive in this man's mind.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In my second example (left), I moved high over the main concourse of the Shanghai Railroad Station, which enabled me to make an image that greatly reduces the scale of the people far below me, and in the process makes the train station appear even larger than it is. I also chose a 28-mm wide-angle lens that stretches my perspective into near-panoramic effect. By shooting down on the scene, I give the viewer not only a glimpse of the entire concourse but also a look outside of the building. The image contrasts two worlds: the relatively casual pace and spacing of the people walking below us, and a chaotic Shanghai street jammed with buses just outside the station's window.

In my final example (above), I photographed a cattle drive near Henry, Idaho. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.