Introduction: Camera Perspective in Photography

Beyond what is in front of the camera and how it is lit, how much you show and at what angle you show it makes a big difference in how we as an audience perceive it.

Looking down on things takes power from them, but also allows us to see from a point of view that might feel more natural to us as humans. Looking strait at a subject, or from below, makes the subject more confrontational, powerful, and grandiose.

Get close to a subject and we feel more connected to it. Intimacy is simulated. We can imagine how a texture feels, or even tastes. Move away from a subject and it's place within the world is revealed, often helping to tell it's story.


In this Instructable we are going to see how changing a camera's perspective makes a big difference in how the final photo looks and how it is experienced by an audience. Before moving forward, consider how you experience the food photographs above, taken by the students at North High School in Waukesha, WI.

Step 1: Materials

The materials your will need for this instructable include the following:


1. A Camera - Any camera can work, but for ease of use I recommend a camera with:
- Manual focus
- Manual lighting adjustments (F stop, Shutter Speed, ISO, White Balance)
- Ability to mount to a tripod

2. A Tripod - Your tripod should be able to move up and down, and have a head that tilts back and forth. Depending on how wide of a shot you want, you may also need some tripod accessories (see optional)

3. A Light Source(s) - This could be a window letting in natural light, an LED light panel, A diffusion box, a shop light, etc.

4. Reflectors / Bounce Cards - Foam core, Matte boards, reflectors, and other objects can be used to reflect light onto your subject in areas that aren't getting enough light -OR- block/absorb light in an area that should have more shadow.



- Horizontal Camera Mount/Boom for flat lay overhead photographs

- Tethering Cord

- Tethering/LiveView Camera Software (Lightroom, Cannon EOS Utility, etc)


In this instructable we will be using food photography as our subject, but the same ideas and techniques can be applied to many different subjects.

Step 2: Studio Setup

To get easy control of scenes with repeatable results, I recommend setting up a studio space.
Here is how you do this...

1. Use the Manual Settings on Your Camera - This allows you to control and repeat how much light is getting into the camera by adjusting the aperture (how big a hole light can get through), shutter speed (how long that hole is open), and ISO (how sensitive your sensor is to light).

2. Use a Tripod - This is a necessary step because then you can control the angle of your photograph by tilting and turning the camera on the tripod. This angle can be locked in place to keep the camera steady.

3. Use Stationary Lights & Bounce Cards - Put lights on some kind of stand or table so that they stay in one place. You can use flashes or continuous light, one light or multiple. For still life subjects, such as food photography, it is recommended that you have your key (main light) coming from the side or from behind. To fill in any shadows some kind of bounce card can be used to "bounce" light back at an overly dark area.

4. Use a Tether - Plug your camera into a computer running tethering software with a tethering cord. This allows you to control your camera from your computer and import photos directly into the computer. This will speed up your process because you can see final images on a large screen and make decisions on what else needs to be adjusted in your final image.

By controlling as many elements as possible a studio setup allows a photographer to first get technical elements right and then focus solely on your subject, adjusting composition and giving direction.

Step 3: Perspective Overview


90°.....Camera facing down, called a "Flat Lay", "Birds Eye" or "Down Shot"

45°.....Camera diagonal to your subject

10°.....Camera slightly above your subject

.......Camera facing front, looking strait at your subject

-90°....Camera facing up, called a "Worms Eye" or "Up Shot"



Extreme Close-up.....Super close to the subject, good for showing fine detail and texture, "Macro"

Close-up....................In tight on your subject with very little surrounding it

Medium Shot.............Slightly backed off of your subject, enough to see the context of what is around the subject

Wide Shot....................Shows the full area around your subject, showcasing a wider scene

Step 4: Choosing a Perspective

So with so many options how do we choose where to put the camera?


It all depends on your subject! Look at your subject's:

- Shape

- Size

- Textures

- Colors

- Personality


Also consider how you want your subject to feel to the audience. Do you Want...

Close-up -or- Super Wide + -20° to 20°
- This works to evoke feelings of Grander, Formidableness, Imposition, Ominousness, and Power

Medium -or- Wide + 20° to 90°
- This works to evoke feelings of Laissez-faire, Happenstance, Calm, and Focus

Medium + 90°
- This works to evoke feelings of Order, Precision, Structure, and Geometric


When in doubt try this trick...Close your eyes and think about the subject you are capturing. where do you imagine your subject? What is the environment like? What objects are around it? What feeling do you get?

Imagine your subject as part of a movie. Is it the star or part of an ensemble cast? What genre is the film? What does the light look like? Are we in the subject's face, or wide showing it as part of a larger place? How does the camera move around your subject?

Your mental image and feelings about a subject will help guide you to a successful camera placements.