Photographic Perspectives

Vantage Points in Photography

Using tight and wide shots to tell a visual story

In a way, the concept of photographing from a particular vantage point is similar to writing from a particular point of view (POV). Both vantage point (or angle) and point of view define the perspective from which we tell the story, be that in words or image(s).

A short work, such as a short-short story or one-image visual story, might call for using only one perspective, one point of view, or one vantage point. Longer works, like a novel or a longer visual story such as a photo essay, for example, call for using different POVs or vantage points.

When telling a visual story through more than one image, consider choosing various vantage points, and various angles from which to photograph, to tell the entire story and capture details, as well as “the big picture.” While deciding what close-up and wide shots to include, also consider how to best tell the story in the most interesting and intriguing way.

A few things to consider when telling a visual story using more than one image:

– when deciding on what images (tight as well as wide shots) to include, think of the narrative, the story, and how to tell it in the most interesting and intriguing way

– consider including tight and wide shots

– tight shots reveal details, but not the entire subject, while wide shots do just the opposite

– use these details, these hints, to intrigue and interact with the audience, if possible

– tell the visual story one image at a time, revealing information one image as a time, offering viewers a puzzle they’re about to solve

Here are a few examples of close-ups and wide shots telling a story, capturing a particular subject.

For example, do you guess where I took the image posted below?

Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

Those familiar with the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, might recognize it. Indeed, when I visited Pearl Harbor many years ago (the image is a #tbt), I noticed the flag against a very blue and clear sky. The frame, or half-frame, is part of the top of the memorial.

Also, here’s another detail shot of a subject that, at first sight, could be anywhere.

The view from Mighty MO deck. Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. B&W photography by Alina Oswald.

Again, those familiar with the Mighty MO, might recognize its deck.

Here’s a shot of the Arizona Memorial as seen from Mighty MO, in the background, a glimpse at Pearl Harbor and surrounding volcano craters:


Here’s another detail shot, this time from inside the Arizona Memorial. Those not familiar with the place, might not recognize it or not recognize it right away, but there is a clue included here–it’s, I believe, pretty obvious that the image shows a memorial of some sort:

Inside Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

And here’s a wider shot from inside the Arizona Memorial:

Inside Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

And here’s a shot of the USS Arizona anchor, with the Arizona Memorial and Mighty MO in the background:

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. About to see Arizona Memorial and Mighty MO. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

So, how do we choose how tight or wide to shoot to tell the story? That depends on the story, the subject, and the message we need to send out through that story. We can shoot tight, wide, and also capture the subject from unusual angles, offering, hopefully, a unique perspective, or use a combination of the above possibilities.

At the Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
At the Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Alina Oswald

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