2 Aug 2008

Photographic viewpoints

I suppose photographers might be roughly separated into two types – those who, when they spot a vantage point, and assuming they are able, simply have to climb up it to see what the view is like from the top, and those who can’t be bothered. I’ve spent a lot of my working life as a travel photographer climbing up hillsides, towers, walls, stairs, onto rooftops and leaning out of upper floor windows. You simply never quite know exactly what you are going to see until you make the effort to get up there and look down on the world.

Of course, you can make an educated judgement of what you might see; you will certainly have looked around from ground level a judged the angles and the light, but the view from the top can often take you completely by surprise. The most wonderful scenes can be revealed and, best of all, the most intriguing pictures of people can be captured.

If it surprises you how few photographers bother to look down, it is even more surprising how few people ever bother to look up. That means the photographer who takes the trouble to find a high vantage point can often work very effectively without being spotted. If you are at all nervous about photographing people this can be a useful technique to try.

The picture above was taken in eastern Turkey. Several pony carts had trotted by and I had photographed them, but the background was very busy and distracting. Fortunately there was a small cliff face running alongside the road – the perfect vantage point – so I climbed to the top. The great benefit was that by looking down on the scene, I was able to eliminate all the background and show only the dusty road.

And did I say nobody ever bothers to look up? Well this eagle-eyed chap did – and gave me a friendly wave as he trotted by with his family.

No comments: