Angles and Frames for Creative Photography Composition

Updated on November 17, 2017
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Chris is a photography enthusiast and blog writer. He enjoys learning new photography techniques and practicing old ones.

Creative Photography With Angles and Frames

Setting yourself apart from all the other photographers is relatively quick and easy. Just about everyone is a photographer since they have a very capable camera in their mobile device of choice. Rise above the herd of mediocrity no matter what type of camera you choose for your photography by considering angles and/or frames in your images.

Most photos are taken with the subject directly ahead of the camera. The photo is snapped and the image is shared across social media. It may very well be a perfectly composed shot but it could be so much more by using a creative composition like framing your subject or considering the angle in which the image was shot.

The nice thing about these creative compositions is that it doesn’t matter what camera or lens you are using. You can make even the least capable image taking device collect far better photos by simply adding one or both of these creative elements.

Using One of 4 Camera Angles

There are four different camera angles that you can shoot from. Considering that most people simply shoot straight from their eye view, you will see that there are many options to take creative control of your camera.

1. Overhead View

This is also referred to as a bird’s-eye-view. When you take in a scene by looking straight down at the subject then you are creating an overhead view. The extreme version of this today is the ever present drone shots. These can create lovely images and videos of scenery looking down. They can reveal shapes and features that one might not be able to observe from the ground.

However, an overhead view can also consist of something far more terrestrial like an overhead shot of your food. We see thousands of foodie shots posted to the various social media outlets. This is taking advantage of an angle that is far more interesting than a head-on shot of a plate of food.

2. High Angle

This is differentiated from an overhead shot as it is simply an angle that places the subject below the camera. For example, the photographer may be standing on a rock shooting down onto their subject below. It takes a little creativity to make this more than usual as it is likely the way people see their environment.

Looking at the world from a high angle is typical of their world view. If you took a photo of a tire standing next to the car looking down, how would that be any different than how someone would look at the view daily? Creatively you would want to figure out how to record that image at a different angle to make it stand out from every other photo.

3. Low Angle

It seems this is one of the most under-used techniques in taking photos. I suppose people just do not want to take the time to bend down and get snap the photo. Unfortunately people who ignore this lose an opportunity for a great angle shot.

The basic idea is to get below your eye level and shoot upwards into the shot. It adds a depth to the photo that makes things appear larger than they are. This is particularly useful when photographing kids. Seeing the world even below their eye level adds a drama to the image that you won’t get if you simply take the photo at an adult’s eye level.

4. The Close-Up

I suppose technically this is an angle. This is simply a shot taken from your eye level to your subject. Every tutorial I’ve ever studied considered it an angle so I would be remiss for leaving it out in mine.

This angle is very personal and engaging, certainly if you are photographing a person. The close-up will necessarily create a sense of connection to the object. This angle focuses the viewer on one simple subject. Nothing else obstructs the intimacy between the viewer and the subject.

Framing Your Subject

Framing can bring another element of composition interest to your photos. This is a technique that creates a natural or even man-made frame into your image. Framing your subject requires careful application to get the technique to look right in your image.

There are two types of frames that a photographer can use to highlight a subject. They can be man-made such as a doorway or it can be natural like tree branches. Anything can be used with a little creativity to frame a subject.

Framing a subject can be useful for drawing a viewer’s eye into the image and emphasizing the subject. Much like adding a heavy vignette to a photo in post processing to isolate an part of an image, framing will do much the same thing compositionally.

Adding a frame to your photo should enhance the image. If the subject of your image is boring then no amount of flowery tree limbs is going to mask that boring shot. Framing should add a subtle element of interest to an already great composition.

Typically a frame is thought of as four sides. Framing a subject in photography can be achieved by only two or three sides. The scene will dictate how that will work.

I tend to enjoy using architectural objects as a source of framing. The possibly over-used frame through a window or door is something I enjoy composing. I like having the viewer follow a line through the scene towards the subject. It’s really a matter of presenting a different perspective to the viewer of your photos.

Conclusion

Achieving a different perspective is a worthy goal of any photographer. Taking the viewer out of the boring and typical composition into something more interesting and dramatic is everything that should be created in an image. Varying the angle or shooting your subject through a frame of your choosing is perfect examples of how to add needed variety to your images. I hope these tips give you some solid ideas on how to achieve more creativity in your photographs.

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