Photography Vantage Points and How to Use Them

What Is a Vantage Point?

Sava river panoramic picture

The “vantage point” terminology actually comes from the world of fine art. Basically, the vantage point is the position from which you would take the photograph. Those vantage points can be very high up, very low down, and just about everything in between.

It is up to the photographer to determine which vantage point to use and why they would want to use it. But there are distinct advantages to using vantage point photography and it is about far more than just where to stand.

Why Vantage Point Is Important

The vantage point is crucial for more than a few reasons. It can impact the composition, angles, and even the narrative of the entire photograph. It is also an integral part of making the right decisions when it comes to the process of actually taking the photograph.

While we tend to take more time considering lighting and camera settings, the view point is just as important as either of those things. Taking a picture from a unique vantage point can even make us consider the subject in a completely different way. For instance, perspectives from low or high angles can add extra emotion to that particular photograph.

Staying at eye level, meanwhile, provides honesty and directness to a photo. By changing the vantage point, you can either include or exclude part of that particular photo’s story.

There are a few questions worth asking as you glance down the live view screen:

  • How can I show a new perspective on the subject?
  • Am I always in this position when taking photos?
  • How can I add interest to this object or subject?
  • What is past the subject on the other side?
  • Can I include other things in the frame to help tell the story?

What Can I Use for Higher Vantage Points?

Creating a higher vantage point may seem tricky, but it can actually be done in many different ways. When done properly, capturing a subject from above can be quite powerful. If you don’t want to implement specialized technology such as drone photography, there are a few other things that will work just as well with you and your camera:

  • Use a ladder: Even something such as a step ladder can be effective at getting a higher vantage point.
  • Climb a hill: The good news is that you don’t have to go up terribly high to get that higher vantage point.
  • Look down: If you are working with a smaller subject, you may be able to just look down. If you plan to work with photography on a small scale, this can be a great way to practice your high viewpoint.
  • Get creative: Make the best use of whatever is around. Stand on your car, sit on a friend’s shoulder, or balance on a fence to get that high vantage point. Just make sure that you go with a safe vantage point so that you can reduce camera shake (and don’t fall).

How Do I Use a Low Vantage Point?

Low vantage points can make the scene or subject feel larger than life. Are you surrounded by a few trees or in the middle of a massive forest? Just a few small buildings or a downtown scene surrounded by skyscrapers? Using a low vantage point can be powerful and simply implemented:

  • Zooming in: If you can’t quite get as low as you want, use your zoom lens to get the details that are higher up.
  • Reflections: Maybe you don’t want to get down on the ground. Look around for puddles where you can use the reflection of that subject instead.
  • Worm’s view: There is no better way to get a low vantage point than to get down on the ground. Lie on your side or your back and try out the different angles. Just think ahead and maybe abstain from wearing your good clothes if you know that you are going to be crawling around for a bit.
  • Portraiture: Trying photographing people from various low vantage points. Look at the subtle changes in the expression and stance of the model while they look down. Does this add anything to the story?