You’ve heard it before: It’s all about perspective. This is true in life, and perhaps even more true in photography. We live in a three-dimensional world, but our cameras only capture two-dimensional images. So what’s the remedy? Making sure your shots include a sense of depth and scale. Here are five ways to do just that.
Tip 1: Use leading lines
Roads, fences, walls, and river banks are all your friends here. Really, look for any lines that lead back into the distance and can draw a viewer’s eyes farther into your photo. This will create immediate depth!
The photo above not only uses leading lines but also has the added benefit of the diminishing light reflections on the ground, adding a second element to lead the eye back into photo.
Tip 2: Include the foreground
Setting the main focus of your photograph farther back in the composition can also help create depth. Increasing the amount of foreground you shoot is a good option when working with landscapes, but can also be used in cityscapes or street photography.
To create depth in this photo, it’s framed to show more of the foreground and less of the sky.
Tip 3: Overlap elements
When photographing a scene with different objects on the same line of sight, the objects that are nearer to the camera should overlap or obstruct those that are farther away. To the viewer, it’s then clear that one element is in front of another. This technique creates a sensation of depth and helps the viewer perceive the relative distance between the objects in the scene.
Tip 4: Look up (or down)
If you happen to find yourself surrounded by tall buildings or trees, for instance, turn the camera up towards the sky. The natural lines found in the buildings or trees will draw the viewer’s eye upward, creating a sense of height and depth. This could also be accomplished using the walls of a courtyard or the opening at the top of a canyon. You can achieve a similar effect by positioning yourself high and looking down, such as from the edge of a canyon or from a building’s rooftop or observation deck.
Tip 5: Create forced perspective
You can also use perspective to distort reality. By creating an optical illusion in your photo, you can make objects appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than they actually are. Tricky! For example, if one person is set much farther back than the other in a photo you can create the illusion of her standing on the other person's hand. Make sure to use a high f-stop when attempting a shot like this so that you have a deep depth of field, allowing both foreground and background to be in focus.
Photos via Jeremiah Gilbert unless otherwise credited.