We often find ourselves shooting what’s directly in front of us, perhaps out of convenience. It’s always great to garner a new perspective, and try different angles that you haven’t incorporated into your shots before. Film photography always involves a lot of planning, you think more about your settings, composition, light, etc. Shots have invariably been more thought out with film, which is why I tend to draw a lot of inspiration from the past.
A great perspective that some folks tend to forget about, is shooting the whole scene looking down. You don’t need a drone for this one, just a few stairs or an elevator. Overhead is done quite often when shooting food or portraits, but with the examples below of great photographers from the 1930s-1960s, you’ll see how much creativity can derive from a simple change of perspective with urban and street photography.
Overhead photography gives you a chance to experiment a bit, so here are a few things you should think about:
1. Play With Shadows
Who says you need to put your camera away in mid-day sun? Mid-day sun is perfect for capturing the scene from above as it gives you a chance to play with shadows and incorporate them artistically into your shot. Embrace that harsh sunlight!
While looking down, look for lines that connect to your subject, shapes, curves and formations that might help you tell the story of the location you’re shooting. Symmetry definitely adds a unique layer into overhead photography that will make those urban landscapes stand out.
Try isolating your subject with the least possible distractions around it. Minimalist compositions will help you tap into your creative side a bit more, as it will challenge you to see past the distractions. Also, look for colors and tones that contrast each other greatly, not only will it look good in color, but if you decide to do some black and white post-processing, you’ll have a little extra to work with.
Images Courtesy of US National Archives
I want to hear your suggestions, what has worked for you when shooting overhead landscapes?