The Possibilities of Perspective in Photography and Life

What is perspective exactly? As with all things I share on this blog, I want to keep this quite simple. There is only one real definition for this word. Perspective is simply a vantage point, a singular view. It is the point in which our reality is created in any given moment. It is how we see and understand the world. The magical thing about perspective, is that it is limitless. There are endless possible perspectives of any given moment. What’s challenging is noticing more than our own one perspective.

In photography, perspective is a major foundation of any visual story. By first becoming self-aware within our surroundings and know where we are in our story, we can then use our perspective to understand and creatively control how we want to “see” our story. When we can become aware of other perspectives though, we can build more confidence and trust our instincts. We also can begin to discover new perspectives to tell our stories.

The standard visual perspective of most human beings is somewhere between four and seven feet off the ground. That is a very limited point of view. So one of the easiest ways to create an interesting image and an interesting life is to simply alter your perspective and get out of this standard vantage point.

If we are lower than something, looking up at it, do we not feel small? If we are higher than something looking down at it, don’t we feel big? If we are close to something, don’t we tend to focus on it more than if it is far away? When we can truly become aware of the relationship between not only the objects within our scene and elements that make up our story but with the relationships of our experience and our feelings within this moment in time, we can begin to see the endless possibilities that new perspectives offer us. We can enter a scene with heightened awareness and have an understanding of the diverse perspectives available.

Think of how kids see the world. Not only are they lower to the ground, but they typically do not stay in one position for long! Whenever I teach kids or teens, I am always amazed at how easily they are willing to jump up on a bench (that adults would only dare to sit on), lay on the ground and look up at something, or even get a bit closer than normal to something that seems strange to most adults. Think bugs, babies, their breakfast, and pretty much anything we think is “off limits”.

The next time you pick up your camera, I dare you to explore new perspectives. Capture your story the way you “think” it should be captured. Then change perspectives to capture it again. Whether you simply tilt the camera or move your whole body, I urge you to step out of what you think is your comfort zone, what you have identified with as your personal perspective, and discover stories that are more more meaningful. You may be surprised. You may just discover something more about yourself. You may discover that you are limitless.