A Different Point of View by John Clarke ARPS
Even a beginner in the dark art of photography will have been told that finding higher or lower viewpoints can add interest to photographs. The standard position is erect with the camera to the eye, so sitting or climbing to a convenient high point can alter the feel of an image.
However, sometimes human frailty of one sort or another can dictate a forced sedentary lifestyle. In such a case achieving a normal viewpoint becomes a problem and an elevated one more so, requiring a convenient mound accessible by wheelchair.
At least one has the advantage of a lower approach to the subject. When I did a lot of environmental portraiture, I often used to squat to achieve this. Squatting now would require a sturdy minder to hoick me up again, but as I am already low down this is not necessary. I’m in good company too. Sebastio Salgado frequently uses a low view point to make his subjects, be they slaves or menial workers, look more dignified. The twin lens Rolleiflex, beloved of so many photographers, had a waist level finder, and had a similar effect. Tom Stoddart uses one for portraiture instead of his Leica.
There are portrait subjects that do not lend themselves to this approach, especially people with large chins or wrinkly necks, which benefit from a high viewpoint, but the balding will benefit greatly!
I still have my Rolleiflex … perhaps an even lower angle would work well, or alternatively I could always use it upside down above my head to get that normal viewpoint.
John Clarke ARPS
Pictured: Dr John Clarke on location with ‘Portraits from the North East’ and a portrait by John of sculptor Ray Lonsdale in his workshop/studio