Here We Come, Ladies! 2011
One of the photographer’s greatest and most frequently overlooked tricks is to vary the point of view (POV). Most of us shoot our pictures from the same level as our eyes. The resulting pictures look lifelike to us because they show what we saw. But they frequently lack any drama or element of the unexpected.
By shifting the POV, it’s possible to come up with an entirely different and possibly more interesting image.
In this summer’s series of photographs from the Boardwalk at Virginia Beach, I’m playing a lot with POV. Many of these shots, like the one above, are being made without me composing them through the viewfinder of the camera. I’m having to look ahead as I walk to see if there’s anything interesting coming towards me and then compose the scene without benefit of the viewfinder. I try to avoid drawing attention to myself by holding the camera no higher than waist level.
Sometimes the process is further complicated by me having to look completely away from the scene if I think the people in the scene will be drawn to the clicking of the camera shutter. If I look away it creates the impression that although the camera may be clicking I’m not really looking at them. Fortunately, the crowding is such on the Boardwalk that most people aren’t paying any attention to me. I can settle into the middle of a group of people and let the ambient sound cover the sound of the camera shutter.
One thing I’ve learned from this is that I have no idea how to hold a camera level. Most times I think I’m holding the camera pretty level. But as this photograph shows, I’m actually doing nothing of the kind.
Often this doesn’t turn out to be so bad. Every now and then I hold the camera in such a way that I don’t even get what I wanted to photograph into the frame. But other times I get angles and points of view I’d never let myself shoot if I were more in control of the composition. By shooting literally from the hip I get a whole new POV.
For every shot that works, there’s one where the perspective is askew enough to upset your equilibrium. I think Here We Come, Ladies! might be right at the edge of what works and what doesn’t. The horizon is nowhere near level. But the leaning lines of the young men in the photograph add an interesting dimension of motion. They lead you from mid right to bottom left and then back up into the center of the sky.
Had the camera been tilted a little bit more, though, you might be rushing to find something to throw up into about now. I hope that isn’t the case, and that you’ll be able to enjoy the sharp blues and greens of this photograph.