A Perspective Least Expected

Early on in my career as a photographer, I found certain things that I most enjoyed about the job. Creating images for clients that had an artistic flare, evoked emotion and, most of all, captured what I call a "perspective least expected."

In portrait photography, expression is everything, it’s true, but I challenged myself to seek that out in ways that went beyond obvious cues of my subject’s face. I would shoot unique angles, seek out expressive gestures and capture my subject matter through unanticipated points of view. It’s amazing how much emotion, enchantment and even whimsy can be found in the unexpected.

Time and time again, my favorite images were those captured from a unique perspective or composed in a way that felt fresh and new. Thankfully, they were often the images that my clients enjoyed the most, as well. When I was able to show them a window into their own world that they themselves had never peered into, I felt like I had done not only what I had been hired to do, but I was doing something more. I was giving them the gift of seeing their life in a whole new light.

Since moving on from portrait photography, I’ve found that these same ideas, this same way of seeing the world and capturing it in photographs, is still what fuels my creative passion. Whether I’m shooting for a work assignment or I’m shooting for myself—and, thankfully, these aren’t mutually exclusive—I find myself looking to capture my subject in a way that no one else might have thought to capture it. Even the most seemingly mundane subject, with the right light, perspective and creative composition, can be transformed into a work of photographic art; and that’s really the fun of photography.

There’s a common thread, a certain approach, I like to take that helps me to create images that offer a unique perspective. The most important thing to remember is to shift yourself and your lens from snapshot mode (standing still in one, predictable place) and find a way to see your subject and then capture it in a more unexpected way.

Observation is always the way to begin. By taking the time to look and see the world around you and all of its nuances in light, shadow, shape, line, color and texture, you’ll better see each subject and how much visual wonder there is in everything—no subject too mundane, no moment too ordinary to elevate into something interesting and beautiful.

Try these techniques as you approach your subject to find a new way to see them and a new way to frame them in your lens.

The Ground Up. Looking at the world from the ground up isn’t usually our way of looking at the world. Using this point of view opens up an entirely new perspective and can yield surprisingly wonderful results. Taking the eye view from someone or something much smaller than we are brings to light something we rarely see, being at ground level. The world is an entirely new place when you look at it from the ground up.

Dizzying Heights. Shooting straight up at the sky can offer something different and even dizzying. The sky is perhaps one of the most inspirational muses there is. Shooting up at the sky can offer a unique shot every time, especially when you incorporate other elements within the sky (clouds, sun, treetops or skyscrapers). Placing them within the sky with deliberate intention is the key to an interesting shot.

Using Light. Light changes everything. It can bring a subject to life by illumination, contour, highlights, shade and shadows. Learning to use the light always will be your best photographic strategy. Light is always present; the object is to see it and use it to your subject’s advantage.

Seeing The Unseen. There are a great many things that are passed by and overlooked each day. Become an observer of your world, and new subjects and ideas will be everywhere. By seeing them and capturing them in your photographs, you can share with the rest of the world all the beauty and wonder that surrounds them. As a photographer, there’s nothing better than shining the light on something no one has ever seen before.

SHUTTER SISTERS is a collaborative photo blog (www.shuttersisters.com) and thriving community of women, passionate about photography. Photographer, author, teacher Tracey Clark (www.traceyclark.com) is the founder of Shutter Sisters and the author of Elevate the Everyday: A Photographic Guide to Picturing Motherhood (Focal Press).

Leave a Comment