Whether you specialize in taking photos or videos, your ultimate success lies in having the perfect visual perspective. This perspective is the balance between the subject and your camera that ultimately impacts the visual narrative. That said, knowing the best types of camera shots and angles is more of a mandate for anyone in these domains.

Each visual piece, whether static or in motion, must be shot at a perfect angle that somehow speaks to the viewers. We can find such outstanding camera work by renowned cinematographers in vintage world cinemas. Today, in this insightful article, we shall discuss some of those angles and shots that will help any novice photo or videography artist hone their workflow. So, let’s begin and learn the art of camera techniques.

Camera shot: the definition

A camera shot is a continuous, single recording of a particular subject from a specific angle. This is what camera shots stand for in the world of photography and filmmaking. The fundamental component of visual storytelling is a camera shot, which captures a scene or subject within its frame. An artistically taken shot conveys meaning and emotion and contributes to the narrative progression of a video, movie, or any other visual medium.

Hence, understanding the nitty-gritty of basic camera shots is integral for any aspiring photographer, filmmaker, or videographer. Each camera shot serves a specific purpose in communicating an artistic vision to the audience. Shots can vary based on distance, framing, and camera movement types, offering unique visual cues to the viewers.

Best types of camera shots and angles

Since there are quite a few shots and angles involved in photography, here we will break down some of the best types. Remember, captivating your audience’s attention is highly dependent on the strategic use of your camera. Let’s explore some of them and get you ready for your next project.

Camera shots

  1. Establishing shot

A typically long or wide, impactful shot introduces the context, location, and setting of a scene. An establishing shot is the most important camera shot type in photography or videography, as it tells the viewer when and where the action is happening. This shot must be taken flawlessly to showcase the grandeur of the environment or set a mysterious tone to hook the audience from the start.

  1. Close-up

Close-up shots usually zoom in on a character’s face or a specific detail, emphasizing its significance. Close-ups are heavily utilized in photography and videography alike, showcasing the expressions of the characters. For product photoshoots, such as cosmetics, jewelry, eye gear, etc., close-up shots are much needed. In this shot, the subject’s head is featured until the shoulder, perfect for fostering connection or triggering emotions in the audience. Photographers usually take these shots using a zoom lens with a focal length of 85mm.

  1. Medium close-up

As the name suggests, medium close-up shots feature a subject’s photo from their head to mid-chest. Photos shot in this manner not only focus on the subject but also on its surroundings. This is why medium close-ups are quite important for interviews or documentary films, showing greater detail to the viewer. This camera shot usually helps in enhancing viewership by breaking subject monotony.

  1. Extreme close-up

The name is pretty self-explanatory. Extreme close-ups reveal the intense emotions and characteristics of the subject, which would otherwise go unnoticed in other shots. These are primarily taken when finer details of the subject’s face, such as the eyes, need to be focused on. Most other parts are cropped out; the photos start above the eyes and end below the mouth of the subject. Macro lenses are utilized to take such extreme close-up photos.

  1. Tracking shot

Tracking shots are usually implemented in videography and filmmaking, where the camera moves alongside the subject. This creates a dynamic perspective or sense of movement. Tracking shots keep the audience engaged and make them feel a part of the action as the journey unfolds onscreen. The difference between pan shots and tracking shots is that in the latter, the camera physically moves and follows the subject instead of simply panning from one static spot.

  1. Wide shot

Wide shots cover a wider view of the subject or the scene, capturing the surroundings along. This gives the viewers a sense of belonging within the scene space. These shots are taken to introduce a new character, scene, or location. A wide shot is also sometimes called a long or full shot and is usually taken with a 35 mm lens or wider. One can also try moving away from the subject to take a wider shot.

  1. POV (point-of-view) shot

Point-of-view shots act as the eyes of the character, showing the audience what the character is looking at. This puts the audience in the character’s perspective, helping them experience similar things. POV shots create an immersive and unique viewing experience for the audience, enabling them to empathize with the characters’ fears, emotions, discoveries, etc. As a result, the audience becomes totally invested in the narrative.

  1. Over-the-shoulder shot

As the name implies, an over-the-shoulder shot, or OTS, places the camera behind the subject’s shoulder, focusing on another character in the front or the element in the foreground. OTSs are primarily meant for filmmaking and videography to create a sense of proximity between the characters. These types of camera shots intensify interpersonal conflicts and dynamics, capturing viewers’ curiosity.

  1. Extreme long shot

An extreme long shot is somewhat similar to a wide shot, as it communicates contextualizing information to the audience about the subject. The only difference is that wide shots feature one or two characters, and extreme long shots feature several characters and actions. The point is to make the surrounding environment the main hero of the story instead of the character. This creates a picture frame within a cinema, elaborating on what’s happening in a scene. Usually, we see these shots in war movies where multiple action sequences and characters are required to be shown at once.

Camera angles

If you are new to this term, a “camera angle” is the location of your camera’s lens in relation to the subject it is snapping. Camera angles hold significant psychological leverage over the audience. Furthermore, the composition of an image or the aesthetic of a scene directly depends on camera angles. Timeless classic Hollywood movies that are still considered trend-setting and phenomenal, have unique and inventive camera angles.

1) High angle/bird’s eye-view angle

The high angle, also known as the bird’s eye-view, is an angle where the camera captures the subject or the scene from an elevated vantage point. In order to get a wider view of the scene below, drones now perform these. Earlier, high-angle photography types of shots were done from the top of tall, multi-story skyscrapers. This gave a great view of the cityscape beneath. In filmmaking, a high-angle shot gives a sense of the scene’s location and scale, as well as creating nice transitions.

2) Low angle

Photos with low camera angles are usually shot from below, giving the subjects an imposing presence within the composition. It gives almost a “larger-than-life” appeal to the subject, forcing viewers to look up and feel vulnerable. Experienced photographers often use such low angles to emphasize the size and stature of the subject. It can be a superhero, a big, tall building, a vast tree, an enormous spaceship, and so on. In eCommerce product photography, low angles can be used to showcase the product with an over-the-top, dramatic appeal to potential buyers, capturing their admiration.

This gives a voyeuristic feel to the viewers, where the subject is placed to the side. This camera angle creates a sense of being an unseen observer. The subject is faced at a distance completely away from the camera, thus intensifying the effect. This shooting technique is mostly relevant in art movies, as well as in portrait photography, which shows the contour features of a person’s appearance.

3) God’s-eye angle

God’s-eye angle, or God’s eye-view, is another filmmaking camera shot, giving the viewers an omniscient viewpoint. The lens is positioned perpendicular to the subject without any point-of-view reference. Mainly, this shot technique is incorporated in sci-fi movies and space/intergalactic exploration documentaries. However, the end scene in the movie Taxi Driver (1976) by Martin Scorsese also showed a great God’s eye-view shot.

4) Upside-down angle

The name says it all. In this camera angle, the subject seems to be upside-down. This is done by actually placing the camera in an upside-down position. The infamous scene in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman where the titular Spiderman sneaks on a goon while descending upside-down.

5) The fish-eye angle

In the world of photography and filmmaking, this angle is one of the most famous. It is usually implemented to create a sense of disorientation, as if the viewer is seeing something out of an orb, typically at 180 degrees. Most 90s hip-hop and pop music videos were shot with this camera angle. The lenses used for these photos or videos have an extremely wide focal range (8 – 10 mm and 15 – 16 mm).

6) The fallen camera angle

This camera technique gives a visual feel of the camera falling to the ground. Although it seems random, it is actually an artistic way of depicting chaos on screen. The fallen camera angle captures everything vital to the story narrative and then proceeds to fall. Filmmakers usually use crash cams to achieve this precision. We can see such crashed-down camera angle shots in paranormal documentaries like The Blair Witch Project.

7) Dutch angle

Dutch angle, also called tilted angle or Dutch tilt, is an angle to evoke psychological disorientation or anxiety within the subject. The camera is tilted on the “x-axis” or roll axis, making viewers feel their heads are tilted. Noted filmmakers like Sam Raimi and Tim Burton often utilize this camera angle, making this a horror staple. This compels viewers to delve deeper into the underlying themes and meanings of the story.

There you are! A detailed checklist of the best types of camera shots and angles that you can experiment with. Start incorporating these skillfully into your visual narratives from the beginning until the end. Having this vital knowledge can solidify your career in photography, filmmaking, and cinematography fields.

Each shot has a unique artistic influence and, when leveraged wisely, can enhance the overall impact of the visuals. Try these out on a regular basis and effectively hook your viewers.

Importance of camera shots and movements in capturing the viewer’s attention

Hope by now the readers have an understanding of the various shots and angles involved in photography and videography. However, if you still doubt their importance in visual storytelling, this segment is for you. In the following section, we will shed light on the significance of these cinematic techniques and how their meticulous implementation can create compelling narratives and visuals.

  • Setting the tone

As we know, video color correction and color grading are done to set the mood of a video. Likewise, camera angles and shots are crucial to setting the tone and atmosphere of a photograph or video right from the start. A perfect camera movement with the exact angle can establish a majestic feel, while sloppy camerawork will generate tension and visual jerks. Thus, choosing the right angle and shot for visuals is extremely important to convey the story to the audience.

  • Creating visual interest

Unique camera angles create a sense of curiosity and engagement in the viewers, who want to stick around for more. Artistic camera shots with a mix of wide shots, close-ups, tracking shots, etc., add dynamics to the film or photo. These camera techniques also add movement and energy to the entire story, making it captivating to the viewers.

  • Directing focus

Camera angle movements and shots are extremely powerful tools to channel the audience’s focus and attention to specific elements. Whether you want to show the emotional conflict and turmoil of the main character, impending chaos, or a thrilling climax, camera framing and movements are the main components. Close-ups can communicate the main character’s facial expressions, while tilted angles, zoom, pan shots, etc, highlight the key actions in the frame.

  • Supporting narrative structure

How the camera follows the characters, or the subject determines the narrative structure. Whether for still images or films, the generated photos and videos must convey spatial relationships between the characters and their surroundings. This is exactly what camera shots and angles accomplish. By implementing the right shot or angle, the cinematographer can establish visual cues or motifs reinforcing thematic elements. They can also showcase transitions or time gaps. Whatever objective you have, your camera techniques must align with your storytelling.

  • Evoke emotion

Most importantly, nuanced camera angles and cinematography elicit certain emotions from the audience required to understand the story. The brilliant camera angles used by Christopher Nolan are proof of this. How the audience perceives a movie, its inherent themes, empathizes with the characters’ inner conflicts, or feels the adrenaline rush, all depend on the dynamic camera movements and angles used.

To sum up, these shooting techniques are not just technical aspects of photography or filmmaking. They are sheer works of art that shape the viewers’ perceptions, engagement quotients, and emotions and align them with the narrative. This is why it is extremely important to work with professional video editors who can fix camera angle issues or stabilize shaky video using advanced video editing tools.


It’s an official wrap to our detailed guide of the best types of camera shots and angles to hook the audience. Hope you have learned something valuable today. In conclusion, mastering the art of cinematography is a vital skill for all photography professionals and videographers. From establishing shots to close-up shots, and from high-angle to bird’s eye-view, these various camera movements leave a long-lasting impact on the viewers.

With the newer ways of filmmaking, more noir cinemas in the industry, and out-of-the-box editing and manipulation techniques, we can hope to see a further new wave of cinematography. To be ready for the coming years, make strategic use of the camera angles and shot types mentioned above and keep them hooked for more. Also, collaborate with professional video editing companies for industry-grade video post-production and retouching. Good luck!