This could be a game, your challenge, your homework. A way to open your mind and maybe escape from a routine. Basically, the idea is to get out of your comfort zone and force yourself to do things differently, to think differently, to question yourself... If you are the type of photographer that takes almost all its photos standing up facing your subject then this video is for you!
Take your camera, a few lenses, if you are game take only one... head to your next photoshoot avoid shooting standing up. You have the opportunity to show the world in a different way. Stop making boring photos, tell a story, send a message... you want to make a powerful, epic picture? Get down, lay on the floor, and shoot from the ground.
5D Mark III + Canon 24 - 70mm mark II f2.8L 1/320s at f5 ISO125 - 24mm Valentina Pierini (Rome)
I do this a lot because I like how some of my performers look powerful from that angle. Little bonus tip, shoot with a wide-angle lens to exaggerate that feeling. The viewer gets inside that intimate space, we feel the action... this works great with action sports photography:
5D Mark III + Canon 24 - 70mm mark II f2.8L 1/200s at f6.3 ISO100 - 24mm Katerina Ristic (Le Havre)
5D Mark III + Canon 24 - 70mm mark II f2.8L 1/200s at f7.1 ISO200 - 24mm Kevin Jacob (Lyon)
Let's go further, let's go down a little bit more... how? The easiest way is to shoot on stairs or to shoot from a place somehow lower than where your model is standing. With stairs, you have incredible lines you can use easily for your composition and you can try several different heights.
5D Mark III + Canon 24 - 70mm mark II f2.8L 1/400s at f3.5 ISO125 - 59mm Dafne Lugui Barbosa (Toulouse)
5D Mark III + Canon 24 - 70mm mark II f2.8L 1/200s at f13 ISO100 - 24mm Vanesa Garcia (Montreal)
I started experimenting this years ago like on these photoshoots made during my stay in Montreal in 2015:
5D Mark III + Canon 24 - 70mm mark II f2.8L 1/200s at f10 ISO100 - 24mm Eva Kolarova (Montreal)
Want to go lower? I know it's hard to imagine, but it's possible if you have the opportunity to shoot through a transparent floor (Would love to do that!) or if you have a performer standing on top of you somehow or hanging from the ceiling. Then you can shoot with your back completely flat on the ground, your camera facing the ceiling... Of course, this won't happen a lot unless you often work with circus performers.
5D Mark III + Canon 16 - 35mm mark II f2.8L 1/200s at f3.5 ISO800 - 16mm Charlotte Lemay (Toulouse)
5D Mark III + Canon 24 - 70mm mark II f2.8L 1/125s at f2.8 ISO1000 - 39mm Karita Tikka (Toulouse)
This lets you create mind-bending pictures especially when you are making tight shots, we wonder for a second how the shot was taken. With my bro Nhât, we experimented with this too many times! We got kicked out of this apartment and I often shoot from that angle when I photograph Chinese pole performers.
5D Mark III + Canon 24 - 70mm mark II f2.8L 1/50s at f3.2 ISO100 - 24mm Nhât Nâm Lê (Strasbourg)
5D Mark IV + Canon 24 - 70mm mark II f2.8L 1/320s at f5.6 ISO250 - 28mm Nhât Nâm Lê (Strasbourg)
5D Mark III + Canon 24 - 70mm mark II f2.8L 1/160s at f3.2 ISO100 - 53mm Nhât Nâm Lê (Strasbourg)
Now, what about high-angle shots? This one can be tricky because it shortens the height of your model. Usually, performers, dancers don't really like this but it really depends on how you compose it. With these kinds of shots, you are dominating your subject so to minimize that effect I rarely ask my model to look straight at the camera, instead they look away or in an opposite direction.
5D Mark III + Canon 24 - 70mm mark II f2.8L 1/160s at f2.8 ISO640 - 24mm Anna Maria Mars (Mulhouse)
5D Mark III + Canon 16 - 35mm mark II f2.8L 1/200s at f2.8 ISO400 - 16mm Sara Renda (Bordeaux)
On this one, I focused on the shadow created on the floor, and let Valentina improvise around different shapes.
5D Mark III + Canon 24 - 70mm mark II f2.8L 1/400s at f4.5 ISO160 - 55mm Valentina Pierini (Rome)
Once you are familiar with that angle, go a bit further by getting close to that high vertical shot. Something I experimented first back in 2015 with the duo Charlotte & Nicolas:
5D Mark III + Canon 24 - 70mm mark II f2.8L 1/100s at f8 ISO320 - 41mm Charlotte & Nicolas (Montreal)
And here is another simple one with Eloïze...
5D Mark III + Canon 24 - 70mm mark II f2.8L 1/200s at f8 ISO100 - 50mm Eloïze (Lyon)
Of course, do not try all of these at once, try each one of them individually and pass to a different angle once you feel comfortable with it. You are building your vocabulary here so take your time... after a while, you will see much more opportunities to take photos, you will have more ideas and you might boost your love for the art along the way. If I had to summarize all this stop being lazy... Whenever I feel that things are easy, I question myself, maybe I am doing this wrong. Challenge, yourself, try new things, be creative, how do you step up your photo game, are you still trying to find new weird angles and perspectives? Let us know in the comments below.