Walk Around Your Subject

By Roger (1 May 2014)

There is a great exercise to help you add variety to your photography: choose a subject and use different angles and perspectives when shooting it.

You want to vary your approach to keep your viewers' interest high. Shoot from different locations – walk around the subject. Shoot from different positions – sit down; get above the subject; and try to find a different angle. Shoot details and shoot the subject in its environment.  You'll learn something, even if the photo doesn't work out.

I got to practice this earlier this week while I was in St. Louis for work. It's a great town, and I hope to go back to spend a little more time on photography. Because I wasn't there on a personal trip, I only had a few hours with the camera. I set out for the St. Louis Arch and the old Post Office. These two landmarks are on lots of the tourist postcards and were only a few blocks from the hotel, so they were ideal subjects.

Here are a few examples to illustrate what I mean. Standing under the arch, I made a conventional shot.

Who put that crane in my photo?

Who put that crane in my photo?

This is an overall view, and the first thing I noticed was the big crane in my photo. I was standing on a hill, near the arch, so I moved down the hill to help eliminate that distraction. In my final image, I'll probably clone out the boom. I switched to a longer lens to make the post office more prominent, and the compression from the longer lens makes the hill look like it is the lawn in front of the building.

I shot several different photos here under the arch and moved across the street to the side of the building. The post office is surrounded by more modern buildings that dwarf it. I zoomed into the cupola to provide a different look and keep the road traffic out of the photo.

While I was here, I saw a reflection in the glass surface of the neighboring building. I moved up to a platform to change the perspective and to try to keep the camera at the cupola's level for a straight on shot. You can see by the slanted panes on the left, I got close to success, but not quite straight on.

While your going through your exercise, don't ignore the standard shot. You can't really visit a landmark and refuse to shoot the iconic photo. There is a reason it's on all the postcards – it's a nice look.

Don't forget the postcard photo.

Don't forget the postcard photo.

I'm not sure if the water is blue for the hockey team (St. Louis Blues) or some other reason, but many of the pools had blue water; it isn't Photoshop. And before anyone else calls me out for violating composition “rules,” I know the subject is centered in all these photos. I have other compositions, but I like these best for this subject.

I had never stayed downtown in St. Louis before, so I was glad to have the chance. I didn't get many people photographs since I was only out early in the morning. Hopefully, I'll get another chance for some street photography there. It was a fun place to visit.