photo of dinosaur scaring away people standing in lines Photo by R.M. Nunes on shutterstock

A Beginner’s Guide to Forced Perspective Photography: 17 Ideas and Tips

Perspective is everything in photography. It can make a building look small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, or a person look like they’re towering above the cityscape. But what is perspective, and how can you use it to create stunning images?

In this guide, we're going to take a look at what forced perspective photography is, some common ideas, and tips on how to execute this type of photography.

What is Forced Perspective Photography?

Forced perspective photography utilizes optical illusions to make an object appear larger or smaller. For example, a building may be made to look taller by using a narrow depth of field and camera tilt.

The process relies on the idea that objects appear smaller as they get further away and vice versa. It's all about manipulating the perspective of the viewer with things like mirrors and scaling. The goal is to increase the sense of depth in your photos.

Common Forced Perspective Photography Ideas

1. Vanishing Point

 corridor vanishing far in the middle of the road

Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

Forced perspective photography can create the illusion of a vanishing point. This is often done by positioning the camera at a low angle and using a wide-angle lens, which makes the lines in the image appear to converge. To make things even more interesting, you can add elements to the foreground or background that appear to be leading into the vanishing point.

2. Tall and Narrow

the perspective view of a super high roller-skateing girl

Photo by Elizeu Dias on Unsplash 

Another common forced perspective photography trick is making things appear taller or narrower than they are. This can be done by positioning the camera at a low angle and using a wide-angle lens, which makes things in the distance appear further away than they really are. You can also use this technique to make tall buildings appear even taller.

3. Wide Angle Lens

orange car on the city street

Photo by Drew Dizzy Graham on Unsplash 

Wide Angle Lens create an illusion of depth and make your backgrounds look larger than life. This is perfect for cityscape or landscape shots because wide-angle lenses have a wider field of view, which makes things in the distance appear further away than they really are. This can be used to make tall buildings appear even taller, or to create the illusion of a vanishing point.

4. Reflections

 photo of a girl walking on the beach with reflection

Photo by nine koepfer on Unsplash 

Reflections are a great way to add depth and dimension to your shots. This is often done by positioning the camera at a low angle and using a wide-angle lens, which makes the lines in the image appear to converge. To make things even more interesting, you can add elements to the foreground or background that appear to be reflections of the subject.

5. Leading Lines

a girl walking far on the country road

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash 

In situations where you want to create a sense of depth, leading lines are your best friend. Look for natural lines in your environment that you can use to lead the eye into the frame. This could be anything from a sidewalk to a set of stairs.

For example, you could take a photo of a road winding its way into the distance, or of railway tracks leading off into the horizon. To really make the leading lines stand out, try using a long exposure so that they become nice and smooth.

6. Frames Within Frames

a girl holding a photo frame with her photos in the flowers

Photo by Natalia Koroshchenko on Pixabay 

One of the most popular ideas for forced perspective photography is to place the object within a frame, and then have the person holding the frame appear to be looking through it. This can be done by holding up a frame in front of the camera, or by using a real frame like a window or door.

The trick is to make sure that the inner frame is closer to the camera than the outer frame, so it looks like it's part of the scene.  To make this work, you'll need to use a wide-angle lens so that both frames are in focus. You can also experiment with different compositions, like having the inner frame fill the whole frame or just being a small part of it.

7. Symmetry & Pattern

view by looking up the super high and long escalator

Photo by Joe Yates on Unsplash

Another popular idea is to use symmetry and pattern in your composition. This can be done by lining up objects so that they form a symmetrical pattern, or by using leading lines to draw the eye towards the subject.

Forced perspective can also be used to create optical illusions, like making it look like a person is holding up the moon or standing next to a giant building.

To make these photos work, you'll need to pay attention to both the foreground and background of your shot, as well as the placement of the subject within the frame.

8. Diagonal Lines

glass-constructed house roof with lines

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash 

Diagonal lines are another great way to add depth and interest to a photo. You can use them to create leading lines that draw the eye towards the subject, or to separate the foreground from the background.

To make this effect work, you'll need to position the subject off-center so that the diagonal lines converge towards it. You can also experiment with different compositions, like having the subject in the bottom corner or in the middle of the frame.

Tips for Forced Perspective Photography

1. Get Creative With Your Angles

downside photo of a girl stpping down the stairs

Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash

Forced perspective photography is all about playing with perspective and using creative angles to achieve the desired effect. So, get creative with your angles! Try shooting from below, above, or even from the side. The possibilities are endless!

2. Get Close to Your Subject

close-up photo of a cattle sculpture with a car seeming on the back

Photo by Hillol Choudhury on shutterstock 

Getting close to your subject is another way to create the illusion of depth in your forced perspective photography. By getting close, you can make objects in the background appear smaller and further away.

3. Shoot in RAW

Shooting in RAW will give you the most flexibility when it comes to editing your photos. This is especially important when you're working with forced perspective photography, as you may need to make some adjustments in post-processing.

perspective view by holding a flower as the dancer's dress

Photo by Tanya Maryshko on shutterstock

4. Use a Telephoto Lens

If you want to make things in the background appear closer than they actually are, then using a telephoto lens is a great way to do this. This will compress the perspective and make things in the distance appear closer than they really are.

5. Find a High Vantage Point

perspective view of a man stepping his foot on a group of people

Photo by R.M. Nunes on shutterstock  

Finding a high vantage point is a great way to shoot forced perspective photography. By shooting from above, you can make objects in the foreground appear larger than they are and give the impression of depth.

6. Use a Low Vantage Point

Shooting from a low vantage point is the opposite of shooting from a high vantage point. By getting down low, you can make things in the background appear larger than they are and create the illusion of depth.

7. Play With Scale

One of the most fun things about forced perspective photography is playing with scale. You can make things appear larger or smaller than they actually are by changing your position in relation to them. This is a great way to create interesting and unique shots.

8. Include People in Your Shots

a man putting his finger at the top of a high tower as if holding it

Photo by Bisual Photo on shutterstock  

People are a great way to add scale to your forced perspective photography. By including people in your shots, you can give a sense of perspective and make things appear larger or smaller than they actually are.

9. Be patient

Forced perspective photography can be a bit of a trial-and-error process, so it's important to be patient. Take your time and experiment with different angles, lenses, and aperture settings until you get the results you're looking for.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this guide has given you some insight into forced perspective photography. Remember to experiment with different angles and positions until you find the one that works best for your photo. With a little practice, you'll be taking amazing forced-perspective photos in no time.

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