This is a long-standing type of shot. The masters of photography have left memorable testimonies. One of the first is a fire escape projected towards the roof of the building, a highly geometric shot by the Russian artist Aleksandr Rodchenko. This is Picture Life
A few years later it is a flight of stairs seen from below, photographed in 1926 by the German Albert Renger-Patzsch : the objective representation of a rigid and functional structure.
In Alfred Eisenstaedt‘s shots , on the other hand, the stairs are filled with people, turning into original group photos.
An undoubtedly winning formula, taken up in the 1960s by photographer Martine Franck in a shot unjustly attributed to Cartier-Bresson.
Of course it remains a very popular genre, on both recent and ancient scales, often without people.
Another trend full of developments is that of the reflective ceiling that makes the photo from below become a fun game of exchanges, because in the end what we see is a view from above. Of course it’s perfect for a self-portrait, like this one by Peter Keetman from 1950.
I also suggest you to read this article for self-portrait.
Two Portraits And Two Self-Portraits – Van Gogh
Before him he had already tried the Walter Funkat experiment with a shot of 1929 on a reflective sphere placed on the ceiling of the Bauhaus. In this case, in addition to the effect from below, there is also the deformation typical of convex mirrors.
The same mechanism was applied by Helmut Newton for a self-portrait with a model in a hotel room with a mirrored ceiling.
But let’s leave the mirrors aside and go back to the pure bottom photo. One of the most interesting themes is the human body because it is difficult to see from below unless it is jumping (or swimming). It is no coincidence that this point of view is often used for images of athletes competing.
Or for acrobats.
Fortunately, there are also more relaxing situations in which to grasp a body from below, for example on rides with flying seats or simply on a swing.
It’s a perfect point of view to tell children, as Alan Laboile did with his children.
With a nice 8mm wide angle you can achieve something similar even without blowing the subject. Willem Jonkers did it with the passers-by of Rotterdam.
Shooting into a courtyard can also create an interesting perspective frame.
It is a well-effect that recalls the ancestor of all these shots, namely the oculus by Andrea Mantegna for the Camera degli Sposi in Mantua (1465-1474).
This view was also used for an anti-smoking campaign , applied to the ceiling of a smoking room. I find it irresistible!
In historical architecture, the shot from below, perfectly vertical, is perfect for the vaults and domes of churches. David Stephenson made a long series of them .
The nature , on the other hand, is an inexhaustible source of inspiration. And by changing your point of view it can become even more so. What about, for example, the flowers seen from the ground? If we were ants we would see them like this!
What we have on our heads when there is nothing around us, no trees, no courtyards. Which? But the sky, of course! And if there are clouds even better (or if there are stars ).
With a good fisheye (or with an app for the phone) we can capture all the celestial vault above us.
You may be interested, in our article on online editor applications.
And in the meantime, standing upside down, you can have unexpected encounters.
For sure, if the stiff neck doesn’t come first, looking up will be a great experience. That of broadening the field of vision , looking from new points of view and discovering which world exists without our knowledge above us.