Have you ever found yourself saying “I’m just so bored of shooting the same spots in my home over and over again.”? Because I know I have. Many, many times.
But guess what? There’s plenty of spaces you have yet to explore to their full potential!
It took me a long time before I started playing around with composition in my photography. You always want to capture the moment, but what about the different angles of that moment? What about the details of that moment? How many different ways can you tell this story?
Take the kitchen table for example. So many things happen around the table – meals, conversations, games, baking – you name it! But if you focus on the same 1 or 2 angles at the table, you’ll eventually feel like you’ve shot that spot enough, that all those photos look the same no matter what is going on, and get bored of it.
It was this thinking that made me want to explore new options. Looking not only at WHAT my kids are doing, but HOW they are doing it was a huge game changer for me.
My kids are my muses, and they are growing up so fast that I want to document all the little things they do to remember this stage in their lives. And I want to be able to stay motivated and inspired to continue telling this chapter through photography.
So here’s a few different tips I have used to shake things up.
1. Get down low. As in, get down as low as you can. I’ve been known to lay down on my stomach on may occasions to get that “bug’s eye view” perspective. This angle makes your subjects appear larger and can add a different element to the story.
In this one, my daughter is playing on her tablet and when I get down low, you can fully see her face as opposed to straight on where her forehead would be prominent.
2. Get up high. And this can be interpreted a few different ways. Looking down on the scene from you height, shooting from a higher angle above your head, or getting up as high as you can and shooting directly overtop of your subject (also known as “bird’s eye view”). Shooting from above is my favourite point of view.
I shoot this angle a lot, and this one where my son is snuggle our monster kitty just melts my heart.
3. Hone in on those details. Whether it’s the way they’re holding an object, the concentration on their faces, the little toes sticking out from a chair, a few flyaway hairs – whatever it is that inspired you to document this moment – find those details and capture them. It doesn’t have to be a close crop either! Just making sure that all the details you want to keep are pictured. One detail I love to capture is my children’s handwriting and how it changes as they grow.
One example of this is a sign my daughter wrote that says "no boys allowed", and then taped to her bedroom door. I mean, how cute, right??
4. Creative crops. Speaking of details, finding different crops are also a good way to focus on one or two details in particular.
Here, my daughter found my husband’s workboots and was trying to tie them together, so I wanted to focus on how big the boots were in comparison to her.
5. Straight on. This one is obviously the most common angle, and one I do use a lot. It tells the story in a beautiful and timeless way that never gets old!
But you can still have fun with it!! This upside down shot of my daughter watching TV is one of my favourites!
6. Step to the side. Just taking a few steps to the right or left can tell the story in a different way. Often I will step to the side to get some backlight from a window or find framing from other elements.
My son had been begging me to teach him how to edit, so I gave him some lessons and set him up with the laptop, and I wanted to make sure I could see what he was working on, so stepping to the side instead of being straight on or behind him gave me that pretty window light.
7. Getting underneath. This is similar to getting down low, but it’s down low to a different point of view. Lay down underneath whatever is going on, look straight up, and capture the moment from there.
I know I'm cheating here slightly, because this was taken outside in a barn, but the concept is the same. You could get this same angle laying on the floor while your child jumps on a bed, off a toddler looking out over the side of a crib, or the joy on their face as you hold them in the air with your feet. The possibilities are endless!
8. From behind. As my kids are getting older, I often shoot their backs. And honestly, it’s one of my favourite perspectives to shoot.
9. Take a few steps back. Capture more of the scene. Sometimes this means stepping out of the room completely and looking on from a distance. This tells the story from more a narrator’s point of view.
10. Pay attention to the lines. Doorways, windows, tables, floors, toys, etc – pay attention to how these lines work to your advantage. Are there leading lines you can take advantage of? Maybe some that help frame your subject? Sometimes these lines will help you find a different angle to change up the composition and strengthen the story you are conveying.
My daughter likes to carry her stuffies ALL over the house, so when she had them lined up on the stairs it was the perfect opportunity to get this perspective. The stairs lead the viewer up to her at the top with all her little friends.
I’d like to challenge you to pick one spot in or around your home, and see how many different angles you can find there to tell one story. Maybe you’ll even find a new favourite angle to use! There are so many more variations in composition to take advantage of. Just move around, keep experimenting, and - most importantly - have fun with it!