Central Perspective

By Levi Shand

What is central perspective?

The Central Perspective challenge asks the photographer to try to eliminate the third dimension in a frame, or at least mute its perceptibility. Why practice this? It’s useful to practice “visual grammar”, meaning the process of actively choosing how easily dimensions are perceived in a street photo. Where on the 2D-3D spectrum does your image fall? Is it more 2D or 3D? If you can answer that question, then here’s another: was that your intention, and could you have made the image differently at will? Are you thinking about where you are standing in relation to your subject and the effect that has on how clearly your image communicates, or have you just been winging it?

How do I shoot from a central perspective?

To achieve central perspective, photographers are instructed to “square up” to a proposed background. If the backdrop is to be a building, do not shoot it from an oblique angle. Try to avoid depicting any characteristics of a three-dimensional image such as:

  • leading lines,
  • overlapping elements,
  • or a vanishing point.

Compliant images could easily been seen as two-dimensional, and could almost serve as schematic representations of a street scene.

Why should I practice this?

This exercise encourages photographers to isolate shapes in their more basic, two-dimensional form. By no means does this exercise say “this is the correct way to shoot street photography”; rather, it has been designed to help the photographer maintain a heightened awareness during shooting. Ideally, after enough practice, the photographer would internalize this calculation and feel able to naturally produce images taken from a predetermined oblique or right angle.

Here are some examples from my photo library:

Central Perpective Example


Central Perspective Example

Central Perspective Example

This entry was posted in Composition techniques.

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