Unusual Camera Angles Pt. II – High Angle

Welcome back to the second part of our Unusual Camera Angles instalment! Let’s continue, shall we?

This time, we’re going to explore the high angle. Considered to be the alternative to the bird’s eye view, this angle is almost always good enough. Sharing the same principles at play, this angle is however, is not taken quite as far from above.

To some, the bird’s eye view may be too extreme for normal photography, especially when you use people as your subject. Due to this, many choose to opt the high angle when they’re doing portrait photography so that they can tell a story.

Stories are important aspects of a photo. As we and other photographers will say, a photo is worth a thousand words and sometimes, better than a thousand written words.

To bring the high angle to its full potential, consider the story you want to tell first. You are now a visual storyteller.

Consider a few things you would want to portray. Make a list if you are not good with mental notes, seeing written notes helps a lot. Write it down on a notepad, or on your phone and refer to it when you feel like you get sidetracked.

“A high angle shot occurs when the camera is placed above a subject with the lens pointing down. This makes the subject appear small and vulnerable.” Jennifer Van Sijil, Cinematic Storytelling.

For wedding photographs, we enjoy taking photos of the couples embracing each other. In this pose, we will angle the camera above the bride or groom’s eye level. This gives off a very soft impression of closeness. By doing so, we are portraying the tying of two souls in love. It also helps other couples to choose that angle for their wedding photograph.

Are you planning to give your viewers a wider, thematic view of the space in the shot? A shot of a person walking down the stairs (as seen in our featured image), a person walking across the street taken from a balcony using the high angle gives a wider view of the scene. This helps create space and give motion to the shot.

The high angle is the best angle to work with if you’re planning to establish this. Pictures of children taken from the height of adult gives off the impression that the child is small and fragile. When you ask children to pose for the camera, be sure to receive an abundance of silly and whimsical poses! This gives off a very childlike vibe to the shot, making it extremely adorable to look at.

Photo by Che Saiful Chin

Once you’ve considered the idea behind the shot, let’s get practical!

To achieve the high angle, you will have to have your camera placed distinctly above eye level, looking downward at your subject. Show the subject from above but not precisely overhead, your camera should be angled down towards the subject. This then makes the outcome of your photo is not of great height or of an aerial view, which as mentioned, is not as extreme as the bird’s eye view.

You can get onto a structure to look down on your subject. If you’re doing a portrait photography, you can have your subject sit down and stand in front of them. Detect the eye level, aim the camera higher than the eye level, and point the camera downward at an angle. Work with a way were you’re most comfortable and whatever you want to achieve will be portrayed in the outcome.

The best thing about modern photography is that you are able take as many pictures as you can until you get the golden shot.

Figure of angles in photography. Note where the angle should be from for High Angle.

And what you want to achieve from this angle is a unique view that can greatly have an impact and emotion invoked from your photo. A bit of a wide look at the overall scene gives the viewer a good impression of the space in the shot.

An abstract quality of the high angle is that it’s a different viewpoint and is from an angled vantage point, giving the viewer a sense of height.

Before we end our post, we’d like to pay homage to Henri Cartier-Bresson. A great high angle photographer who’s considered a master of candid photography. His photographs are relatable because his subjects are humans and he captures the human emotions perfectly with every shot. A pioneer to the street photography genre, he has influenced numerous photographers. And hopefully, he will inspire you as well.

FRANCE. Sunday on the banks of the River Seine. 1938. Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Courtesy of Magnum Photos.

Featured image photo by Stephen Di Donato on Unsplash

Read our Unusual Camera Angles Pt. I
Read our Unusual Camera Angles Pt. III

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