Photography Tips For Shooting Overhead

photography tips

For me shooting from above is a very unique image-making experience. It almost feels like painting a design on a flat surface. Everything revolves around a two-dimensional composition.

There is no conspicuous perspective, no depth of field (unless shooting aerial images), the photographer is automatically directed to pay complete attention to the subject, style, and design aspect of the composition with respect to the edges of the frame, negative space, and colour. But yes, there are some essential things that every photographer needs to learn.

I was in NYC and looking for my second studio when a fellow photographer had heard of a great space on 17th and 5th avenue. At the time it was in the heart of the photo district. That was a terrific location so I went from there. Walking into space I was overwhelmed with excitement.

You stepped into a full kitchen with lots of natural light. Then there was a great office and storage, plus a dressing room, bath, and full darkroom. But the real surprise was the studio shooting space. I walked through double doors into a large shooting area with a 24ft. ceiling. We may realize that we could build a high camera platform and shoot from directly upperside onto just about anything! Well, I did take that space and build the shooting platform. Then I got one of my art directors to show him how I could shoot directly overhead on products.

The next project he had, we did just that. It was a domestics catalog of bedding. We shot most of the catalog from that platform. It gave a whole new perspective to my photography and it was a fun way to shoot. Below are pages from a list we did at that studio shooting from overhead.



Allow some working space: Place your subject on the floor level or a low table.

Use Tripod: To free your hands and maintain a consistent frame, use a tripod.

You can use a Tripod Side Arm If your tripod legs get in the frame. An arm is attached to the tripod’s column, and the tripod head can be attached to the sidearm. Some tripod brands offer rapid column design, where the central column can be put horizontally. You can use your mobile also to click pictures. Furthermore, the advantages of the Huawei p smartphone you should check once!

If you are looking to buy a new tripod, choose the one with a short horizontal column, it will come in handy in many situations. (macro, food, still life, etc..)

We often get emails asking to recommend a tripod so I’d like to take this opportunity to recommend one which is suitable for advanced photographers and offers rapid column design: Manfrotto 190XPROB 3 Section Aluminum Pro Tripod Legs or a beefier version of the same tripod Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod Legs Please note that these tripod legs will also need a tripod head (to mount the camera).

Here are a few appropriate heads for tripods listed above Manfrotto 322RC2 Joystick Head Short or Manfrotto 496RC2 Ball Head. In general when choosing the tripod consider the weight, extended height, and supported camera weight to suit your needs.

The common problem when shooting overhead is that the camera is high above the surface so looking through the viewfinder is not an easy task here are some basic solutions:

  • Solution A: If the camera has a live view function: connect it tethered to the computer. The software came with a live view feature on the camera. This way, and you can see your composition directly on the screen.
  • Solution B: Connect your camera to a television set and see the TV screen’s image while composing.
  • Solution C: If your camera does not have a live view mode: Use a wide-angle lens (as we did in the video) so the distance from the camera to the subject is short and you can easily look through the viewfinder.
  • Solution D: If the above is not possible, simply use a step ladder. Just be careful up there.

Here is our final Shot from this tutorial:

still life from above

Assignment for you: Create an image Shooting from above. Use any subject: People, Architecture, Still Life. Pay attention to the composition.