Most Effective Viewpoint for Shooting Portrait

Viewpoint for shooting portrait refers to the best position from which you photograph the subject. This is one of the basic aspect that most amateur photographer has neglected. It is so easy to hold the digital SLR camera and photograph the subject at eye level. The outcomes of having a humdrum photography maybe effective, provided your subject is spontaneous, experienced to modeling, and constantly having different pose in front of the camera. Think twice, do you want to hire a high-paid model just to learn basic portrait photography? So how to achieve the most effective viewpoint for shooting portrait? Simply put it, which shooting angle is best to produce a more flattering result in your composition? Below showing 4 methods for using viewpoint that enhance your portrait shooting.

  1. Experiment with different height and angles. Be proactive. If the your subject is static, you should be the one to move and try shooting at different position. Shooting at high or low angle can drastically change the effect to improve the overview results and creativity. Try kneel down and shoot at waste level, or from extreme low ground to produce majestic statues-alike. Viewpoint can also have a subtle effect on how the subject appears – looking up can make them appear submissive or cheeky; looking down can make them seem dominant or even naughty.
  2. Identify the unique facial features that characterize your subject. In caricature for portrait drawings, key features are intentionally exaggerated to make a face more easily recognizable. Likewise, have an extreme shooting angle for a portrait close-up will also achieve a whole new dynamic. For example, shooting from above will accentuate the feature of high cheek-bone, portraying one with stern look and strong character.
  3. Use wide-angle lens for portrait close-up. Most versatile zoom lens for that I have used is Canon’s EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM. For more professional, I would recommend EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM. For ultra-wide, use EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM. Or EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye, for unique and intriguing effects. As a beginner, would you choose to invest on a good SLR lens with resale value or to hire an experienced model who has to pay hourly?
  4. Its always better to have eye contact. Your subject without eye-contact in portrait will reflect your composition with voyeuristic feel, than with intimacy mood. Re-quoting from a popular photography blog “Without eye contact, the whole mood of the image changes – the camera is now simply an ‘observer’ and this is a great opportunity to show a subject in a different way.” Source from

Here is an examples for shooting at side angle and slightly above eye-level.

Viewpoint of Portrait Photography
Viewpoint of Portrait Photography. Source from Flickr: "TheHopscotch's Photostream"