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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Six: Vantage Point makes the difference > Preparations, Ambassador Pagoda, Hanoi, Vietnam, 2007
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Preparations, Ambassador Pagoda, Hanoi, Vietnam, 2007

Early morning finds crews of temple volunteers polishing the ceremonial brass figures that adorn Hanoi's Ambassador Pagoda. I stood on a balcony overhead and shot straight down on a woman who was looking up at her work. The most effective way to photograph any person at work is head on, rather than from the side. Side vantage points are always passive instead of active, and invite confusing mergers in the background. If a person is looking down at their work, the photographer should get down and shoot up, even if it means getting on the floor. And if the person is looking up at their work, it is best to seek a higher vantage point, as I do here, and shoot down on it.

Leica V-Lux 1
1/50s f/3.2 at 12.7mm iso200 full exif

other sizes: small medium large original auto
Phil Douglis13-Oct-2008 03:58
Glad this example is useful to you, Khang -- you live in Hanoi, and can take advantage of the balcony at this pagoda for working shots, too.
Guest 10-Oct-2008 11:12
What a lesson I had here for shooting working people, thks a lot Phil!
Phil Douglis06-Feb-2008 17:02
Thanks, Vera, for seeing the energy behind those closed eyes. I am glad they kindle your imagination. I hope that this image will help you grasp the importance of vantage point: where you choose to stand will often determine what your picture has to say.
Guest 06-Feb-2008 01:56
I never in a million years would have thought of this. There are no distractions in this photo. We are left to see her face and imagine. Perhaps she is imagining being in another place and time with her eyes closed so tightly. If I close my eyes, this will all go away.
Phil Douglis26-Jan-2008 20:03
Thanks for seeing the depth of commitment here, Jenene. When I look at those closed eyes, I see that effort and
her great care. These golden figures are sacred, and her touch is reverently applied.
JSWaters26-Jan-2008 07:29
She may look like her eyes are closed, but the water on the ground around her is testimony to her hard work and her concentration on her task. The gleaming gold against the dull gray background is proof of her commitment.
Phil Douglis20-Jan-2008 21:27
If a perspective causes the viewer to do a double take, stop, and study an image, Carol, it is doing its job. And in this case, my high vantage point pulls the viewer into the job at hand.
Carol E Sandgren20-Jan-2008 06:38
Your perspective is indeed a bit perplexing which only adds to the fascination of this image.
Phil Douglis19-Jan-2008 05:18
Glad this image is useful, Veraferia -- I always welcome your comments and questions.
veraferia19-Jan-2008 00:24
Thanks Phil! I am always learning with your work!V
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