In the past few years, drone photography has taken off. It’s so much easier now to make pictures from above, and it seems every photographer with a smartphone has a drone these days.
But what about seeing life from below, at ankle level? I learned early in life the world looks a lot different an inch or two off the ground than when standing upright or from the sky.
As a child, I would lie on my stomach in the tall spring grass, disappearing into a magical world while watching small bugs crawling up blades or ants carrying seeds twice their size. I spent endless hours watching the world beneath my feet and dreaming, until the worried voice of my mother, calling from our back porch, lifted me back to reality.
Just as life looks and feels different from the sky, viewing the world from ankle level with a camera offers a refreshing perspective.
Most photographers learn photographing children and dogs on their level is one of the secrets to more compelling pictures, but fail to realize how low angles in everyday life can make their pictures more interesting. Besides, getting low is often the best way to clean up busy, cluttered or distracting backgrounds.
An assignment many photo teachers give beginning students to encourage seeing differently is the bird’s-eye view and the worm’s view. I prefer a reptile’s point of view.
I am 6-foot, 4-inches tall (at least I used to be) and am forever crawling on my belly or placing my camera on the ground or floor to capture an uncommon perspective.
In my film days, I used a Nikon F camera, which allowed me to remove the prism and view through the top while setting the camera on the ground. Some of my favorite images were made this way.
I miss those magical, childhood days filled with curiosity and wonder. From those early years, I learned life looked very different on my belly.
Dress in comfortable clothes you don’t mind getting soiled or torn (kneepads if you like) and commit to seeing and photographing your world from a different perspective. I see far too many lifeless, boring, shoulder-level pictures shot by “comfortable photographers,” unwilling to get dirty. Take some risks. Carry me visually to somewhere I haven’t been or show me something I can’t typically see.
Email your best image (just one, please) with caption information, including an explanation of how it affects you, to GPH@pur.coop. We may share submissions on our website and social media channels.