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Learn Photography

Photo Tips > Point-of-view

Point-of-view (POV) can mean where the camera is placed in space for a photograph.

Here, POV is the thought or feeling that a photographer has in her mind as she photographs.

This POV will influence what is photographed, and how it is photographed.

Example #1

If you hate anchovies, you'll photograph them differently than if you eat them for breakfast everyday!

Example #2

Dorothea Lange photographed the storefront of a Japanese American the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese in 1941.


Dorothea Lange

In February 1942, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order to send ethnic groups to internment camps.

Dorothea Lange took the photograph below in April 1942 in San Francisco.


Dorothea Lange

Many Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps in the United States.

When she made the photographs, in the context of the war and the executive order, Lange had a POV about U.S. citizens of Japanese descent who were considered to be the enemy.

She didn't believe they were enemy agents.

They were Americans.

Example #3


Sally Mann

Sally Mann did a series called At Twelve.

Her point of view, perhaps, was a quote from Anne Frank at the beginning of the book, "Who would ever think that so much can go on in the soul of a young girl."

With that POV in mind, she photographed girls in her community differently.

She could have created a humorous series, if her POV had been, 12-year-old girls are ditzy.

Exercise #1

Photograph an egg from two different POVs.

The first POV is the one that you would expect from the National Egg Producers Association.

The second POV is what you would expect from the Bad Cholesterol Foundation.

Exercise #2

Photograph Xavier from two different POVs.

Xavier's mother loves him.

Pretend you're his mother and photograph Xavier.

Xavier's mother-in-law hates him.

Photograph Xavier as id you're his mother-in-law.


Can a photograph be made that doesn't have a POV?