Low-angle shot: Why and how it’s used

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by David Em
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A low-angle shot is a camera angle that’s below the eye line of the subject. It looks upward and makes the subject look powerful.

Low-angle shot of a person surrounded by tall buildings.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

In cinematography and photography, your camera angle impacts the experience, feelings, and portrayal of a subject.

Whether you want your subject to look powerful, vulnerable, or friendly, camera angles allow you to control that.

When you combine a camera angle with the proper composition and lighting, you’re telling a story through an image or film.

One of the most effective angles is the low-angle shot. Learn what it is, the benefits, drawbacks, and how to use it.

What’s a low-angle shot?

A low-angle shot is one of the many camera angles in photography and cinematography.

It refers to a camera angle positioned anywhere below the eye line of a subject. It points upward as if a viewer is looking up towards the subject.

Whether the camera is slightly below eye-level or at the feet of a subject, it’s a low-angle shot.

If you’re shooting from your subject’s feet, it’s also referred to as an extreme low-angle shot.

Related article: How to use diagonal lines in photography

Low-angle shots are used to make the subject look strong

So, why would you use a low-angle shot? It’s a captivating perspective that makes your subject appear powerful, bold, and taller.

The most common way for a low-angle shot to be used is to convey power.

In films and photography alike, low-angles make a viewer feel inferior. It has an imposing effect, and the power can be good or bad.

Additionally, shooting from a low angle makes the subject appear taller, bigger, and their legs look longer.

Movies show heroes and villains from low angles.

In photography, the fashion industry prefers low angles because it makes a model’s legs look longer.

Shorter subjects also are shown from a low angle to look taller.

If you want your subject to look grand or taller, place your camera at a low angle.

Low-angle shots can make a subject look vulnerable

Generally, low-angle shots convey power, but they can also make a subject look vulnerable.

It seems contradictory. However, it’s about the other elements in the frame and your subject’s expressions.

For example, focusing on a subject surrounded by a group from a low angle communicates feelings of being under attack or trapped.

Also, your subject’s facial expressions impact the perception. With a scared or sad expression and a low angle, the subject appears stuck, helpless, and afraid.

So, a low-angle shot can portray vulnerability.

How to shoot a low-angle shot

Low-angle shots have psychological effects. However, they also offer compositional and visual benefits.

The unique perspective makes your images or films eye-catching and intriguing.

Also, the low angle allows you to easily isolate a subject or separate the subject from the background to enhance the depth of field.

With so many benefits, it’s easy to see why you should start using it.

Low-angle shots are also straightforward to achieve.

To film or photography a low-angle shot, the camera must be below the eye level of your subject.

Crouch, sit, or lie down to position your subject above you. Another option is to raise your subject to a higher level.

Examples of low-angle shots

Low-angle shots are prevalent in films, magazines, and photographs. The following are several examples to inspire you to use a low angle.

Police officer on a motorcycle.
A low-angle shot conveys authority. Capturing an image of a police officer from a low angle is fitting. Photo courtesy of Canva.
Tall woman wearing a dress and walking on a beach during sunset.
A low camera angle makes your subject appear taller and more confident. Photo courtesy of Canva.
Family flying a kite in a field.
The low-angle shot of a family flying a kite in a field shows a child’s perspective, looking up at the kite. Photo courtesy of Canva.

Conclusion

A low-angle shot is a camera angle positioned below a subject’s eye line.

Depending on the composition and subject, a low-angle shot portrays confidence and power or weakness and vulnerability.

A low camera angle pointing up is powerful. Start using it to better tell stories through photography or cinematography.

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.

About David Em

David Em.

David Em is the founder of Portraits Refined. He’s a published portrait photographer dedicated to helping photographers develop skills, capture incredible photos, and build successful businesses.

About Portraits Refined

Portraits Refined (PR) is a media company that publishes the latest expert-backed portrait photography tips, in-depth camera gear reviews, and helpful advice to grow your photography business.

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