Table of Contents
- The Rule of Thirds
- Camera Shot Size
- Camera Angles
- Additional Resources
Regardless of your skill level, changing the arrangement or structure of subjects in a photo can help add visual interest and uniqueness to your image. Sometimes, adjusting your position or getting closer to your subjects can make your photo much more captivating!
The Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is a composition guideline that can help make a photo more visually engaging or share focus between multiple subjects by balancing the elements of a photo within intersecting points on a gridded guide. To apply The Rule of Thirds to your photo, divide the image into thirds vertically and horizontally using four separate lines to create a three-by-three grid pattern. This grid pattern creates four intersecting points where the subjects can be placed to build a well-composed image.
Still, The Rule of Thirds is simply a guideline to help control the balance and flow of an image, not an absolute rule. Sometimes, breaking The Rule of Thirds can create different compelling images, so don’t be afraid to experiment with your photographs!
If you want to pull focus to a specific subject in your photo, adjusting the space between the subject and your camera might help! Shot size is the area of the frame in relation to the photo’s subject, and by moving closer or farther away from the subject, you can alter the mood and focus of your photos.
You can use the concept of shot size to include and exclude elements in your photographs, and selecting the right shot size can change your photographs’ tone and overall narrative!
Now that we’ve covered why shot size is important to photo composition, we will explain some of the commonly used shot sizes!
Extreme Close Up (ECU)
Extreme Close Up (ECU) shots fill the frame with specific details of your photo subject. In portrait photography, an Extreme Close Up would typically show eyes or mouth, for example.
ECU can apply to any photo subject, as long as the shot focuses closely on a specific portion of the subject, such as fingers, the petals on a flower, or even the handle of a coffee cup.
Close Up (CU)
Close Up (CU) shots fill the frame with some part of your subject. For example, if you were photographing a person, then a typical close up shot might show their entire face.
Medium Close Up (MCU)
Medium Close Up (MCU) shots frame the subject from the chest up. It usually leaves a small amount of headroom on top of the subject.
Medium Shot (MS)
Medium Shot (MS) is one of the most common shot sizes. Typically, a Medium Shot frames the subject from waist-level through the torso. Medium shots help highlight the subject, but also show background and the surrounding elements.
Medium Long Shot (MLS)
Medium Long shot (MLS) frame the subject from knee-level up.
Long Shot (LS)
Long Shot (LS) frame the subject within a wider or taller view of the surrounding environment. If the subject is a person, then their full body will be in view in addition to surrounding elements.
Extreme Long Shot (ELS)
Extreme Long Shot (ELS) make your subject appear small within their location. Typically, ELS is used to make your subject appear distant or showcase your location.
Camera angles can affect the way the viewer perceives the elements in a photograph. The degree of a camera angle can change the mood meaning of the photo entirely. By pointing the camera at certain angles, you can give different emotions to the subject and open up a new side of the world.
Eye Level Shot
Eye Level shots are the most common height. In an Eye Level Shot, the camera is positioned at the subjects eye level, which provides a neutral perspective for the photo.
Low Angle Shot
A Low Angle Shot is when you take the picture from below, looking up at the subject. This shot typically shows power dynamics, with the subjects in a position of higher power.
High Angle Shot
A high angle shot is when the camera is positioned above the subject of the photo, and the camera is angled to look down at the subject. This technique is sometimes used to create a feeling of inferiority, or “look down” on the subject.
Dutch Angle or Dutch Tilt Shot
A Dutch angle (or Dutch Tilt) is when the camera is slanted to one side. This often tends to create a sense of disorientation, and can be used to show the subject’s state of mind as “wrong” or unsettled.
Bird’s Eye View Shot
A Bird’s Eye View Shot (also known as an Overhead shot) is when the subject is photographed from an extremely high vantage point, where the camera is angled to look down at the subject.
Hip Level Shot
A Hip Level Shot is when a subject is photographed at the waist (or hip) level.
Knee Level Shot
A knee level shot is when the camera height is set to the knee level of the photo subject. When you combine the Knee Level Shot with Low Angle Shot, it can give your subject the sense of superiority.
Ground Level Shot
A ground level shot is when the camera’s height is directly at the ground level in relation to the subject of the photo.
Many thanks to our Project Manager, Kahela Fickle, for volunteering to be our photo subject and to Kwanmanus (Gina) Thardomrong for volunteering her time and photography skills!
Still looking for ways to improve your photography? Check out our article on Camera Exposure to learn how lighting affects photographs, or check out the resources below!
- How to use (& break) the rule of thirds in photography | Adobe
- Rule of Thirds Definition – What is Rule of Thirds by SLR Lounge.
- Camera Angles in Photography: A Quick Way to Enhance Your Shots
- Ultimate Guide to Types of Camera Shots and Angles in Film [50+ Types]
- Camera Angles – Everything You Need to Know – NFI