How to Position Yourself for Better Photo Composition

June 26, 2012

in Photography Tips, Photography Tutorials

I Heart Faces Photo Composition Tips

As the photographer, changing your position can help improve the composition of your photos. If you feel that your photos always look the same or are lacking interest, try these tips from Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman to create more interesting images.

Move It!

One of these days I will get around to hiring someone film me behind-the-scenes.  I literally don’t stop moving.  I’m always jumping on chairs, couches, steps, or crawling on my tummy Marine-style across wood floors, dirt and sometimes even concrete (ouch!)  It is all in an effort to take photos from different angles and positions–to bring more impact to my compositions and to demonstrate what I am seeing when I photograph a child.  Here are three quick tips on how to achieve a more interesting photo composition by changing your position. Shoot up, Shoot down, Get down- kind of catchy, eh?

Shoot up.

We are always told ‘Don’t shoot up, it isn’t flattering.’  And while that statement holds true for most of us adults, for kids it’s awesome.  Some of my favorite lifestyle photos happen when a child is in motion and I am shooting up.  Take this swing shot.  Since he was swinging pretty high, I did scale up the jungle gym a bit, but still kept the camera pointed in an upward angle. It gave a real feeling of his freedom in flight.

I Heart Faces Photo Composition Tips

Shooting up also helps to highlight contrasts-  as in this case with the little girl walking with the big massive trees behind her.
I Heart Faces Photo Composition Tips

For the photo of my daughter jumping in the fog, shooting up at her (I shot this sitting down in the street) gave a little extra ‘lift’ to her jump by making the jump appear slightly more ambitious.
I Heart Faces Photo Composition Tips

Shoot down.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is shooting down at your subject.  A tree stump, step, couch, step stool etc. can be the place you hop onto and work to your advantage if you position yourself above the subject.  It’s very storytelling as in this photo of the child with the snow globe.

I Heart Faces Photo Composition Tips

This is also a way to get a photo of siblings from a different perspective.  Have the kids lay on the bed then jump up on it (ask Mom first of course).  They usually think it’s pretty weird at the least to have me standing over them on the bed shooting down, but that curiosity makes for a great photo.
Word of caution: always be sure your camera strap is around your neck and you have a tight grip on the camera.  Not only can you damage your equipment when the laws of gravity are pulling on your camera, but more important, you must protect your little subjects from a camera falling on their head.  Remember safety before the shot always.

I Heart Faces Photo Composition Tips

Shooting down from atop something is also a great way to add catchlights to a head shot/portrait when outside.  Eyes are just gorgeous from this angle as are details such as eyelashes that you can see in this photo of the little boy hugging his mama.

I Heart Faces Photo Composition Tips

Get down.

Get down on a child’s level. For playing shots, drop down on your belly and see what a difference it makes in your photo composition.  It’s like you are right in there with them and gets you really up close and personal.  Like a peek into their little world.
I Heart Faces Photo Composition Tips

Don’t be afraid to mimic a child either when getting down to their level.  I was laying down on the bench opposite this little man as he played tunnel.  Had I photographed it any other way, it would have lost the intimacy.  It also gave me a really cool angle and a feeling of movement in the composition.
I Heart Faces Photo Composition Tips

So if you feel like you have been shooting in the same.position.every.shot. just get moving!  The more you move as a photographer, the more interesting your compositions become and the greater the story will be.

JenniferJennifer Tonetti-Spellman for I Heart Faces Tonetti-Spellman is a die-hard, natural light, lifestyle photographer in New York who loves to search for the light. Like her on Facebook  to continue being inspired by her beautiful work!





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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary June 28, 2012

Are there any particulars to watch out for when shooting up or down? Like when shooting up and showing too much of the neck/chin and things of this nature. I really like the advice given above. I do not do enough of getting around, up and down!


Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman June 27, 2012

Thanks all! Mike- couldn’t agree more and love that shot you linked to (big fan of street photography!)


MikeC366 June 27, 2012

Some great advice here. Shooting up can also lend a great dynamic feel to a shot. People don’t expect to see someone from from literally ground level.
I frequently do this when out shooting in the street. I also find the more conspicuous you are, the more they tend, not to notice you.

Thanks for a great article.



Declan Mc Glone June 27, 2012

How to Position Yourself for Better Photo Composition #photography



Good advices. Thank you.


Antique Mommy June 26, 2012

Beautifully composed shots and great tips!


Angie June 26, 2012

Love these simple photo composition tips from Jellybean Pictures & @iheartfaces!


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