Zenfolio | Bob Barford Photography | Shooting from above?

Shooting from above?

July 16, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Do you shoot from above?


Shooting from above your subject has definite advantages. Poses that you can achieve with the model laying can be quite different from standing and can be rather dramatic.

There are some things that you need for this to be effective. First, an interesting background laid on the floor can add interest to your image. The background can certain range from a patterned backdrop as shown above, or it can just as easily be a kiddie pool of water. Generally, the more exotic the background, the more interest your image may receive.

You will of very likely need a ladder tall enough to get your subject framed correctly. The wider the angle the lens, typically needs shorter ladders. The ladder should also have a footprint small enough so that you can get as close to your subject as possible. Of course another option is for you to be shooting from an elevated porch or balcony. You will want to position yourself as close as possible over your subject so that you are shooting ideally no more than 10-15 degrees off axis from your subject. 

Lens choice is typically important in that you will need a reasonably wide angle lens, 24 mm or wider. A zoom lens is particularly helpful if you are on a ladder so that you don't have to step up/step down to get just the right composition. This is one case where your 80-200 mm is not going to be much help, especially if you have a crop sensor. Although shooting from a balcony gives you a little more latitude, the communication with your subject can be a little more tricky.

When shooting indoors, a beauty dish with a grid facing your subject can give some pretty dramatic results. Of course, anytime that you have a light close to your model, assure that it is on a sturdy stand and even weighed with sandbags. Nothing can ruin a shoot quicker than have a light topple over on your model.


Your camera position as mentioned above should be as close as perpendicular to your subject as possible. While this may not always be possible with a ladder, the closer you can get to this position the better. Tilt out screens on certain cameras as well as a timer can certainly help in some cases.  Outdoors, drone shots are certainly a possibility with certain higher end stabilized flight drones. 



Your model is typically going to start out laying on her back, but depending upon the concept, multiple poses are possible. As above, the hair can be positioned much easier than if your subject were standing upright and leg positions can be maintained sometimes as though the model were jumping. This can be useful if you flip the image clockwise or counterclockwise in post production.

Overhead shots can be dramatic and produce some original images...just don't fall!!!


-Bob Barford is a published photographer in So. PA.



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