Jim from Montgomery, AL writes:
"My favorite part of PFRE is the monthly photo contests and all the great comments made on the photos. I’ve noticed though that all but one of the winning photos this year has been a one point composition. I would love to be able to take great one points too like those winning pics. Any suggestions?”
Thanks Jim, and yes, a well-executed one-point can be very special. Indeed, pretty much everybody loves a good one-point! To execute them well, it’s important to keep in mind the interplay between height, width, and length. Specifically, a one-point composition requires that the vertical lines (indicating height, of course) and the horizontal lines (indicating width) are straight and parallel, respectively. When these two variables have been taken care of, then, as you can see in the photo attached to this article (click on it for larger view), what makes a one-point, a one-point, is when the lines associated with depth, converge at one point on the horizon line--hence the term: one-point perspective. By the way, the horizon line is typically at or around our eye-level.
A vast majority of the one-point compositions that we tend to see in our world are taken with the camera placed in the middle of the space being captured. We see these “centered one-points” so frequently that we presume that “being centered” is a requirement of this composition type. In fact, it’s not. As long as the criteria stated above are met, our camera can be positioned off-center in the space. That said, the fact remains that a great many one-points in our field are centered, so if that’s what you want to do, the question becomes how do we make sure that we have precisely centered our camera? This sounds easier than it actually is and can often cause us fits! It’s been my experience though, that the space/room will give us “clues” that we can use to accurately center the camera. For example, in many spaces, the base plate for the light fixture is placed dead-center of the room, so I often use it as a reference point by which to center my camera.
The Value of One-Points
I believe there are at least two key reasons why there is so much value in knowing how to nail down a one-point composition. First, is my sense that many of our competitors don’t do them. Indeed, almost everyone of my coaching clients tell me that most of their competitors work in a business model driven by volume and thus, have to move very quickly through the house in order to stay on schedule, as they have other houses to shoot. As such, they don’t have the extra time that doing a good one-point often requires. Instead, they shoot corner-to-corner, which is a little easier to execute; and while there is certainly nothing wrong with shooting this way, many real estate agents who might be accustomed to getting these corner-to-corner images will not be used to seeing a good one-point. As such, Jim, I personally believe that if you do one-points well, it will help you in distinguishing yourself from many of your competitors.
The second reason is more for those real estate shooters who aspire to work with interior designers or architects (a topic that I’ll be doing a multi-part series on, at some point in future). For these clients, executing a one-point composition is a non-negotiable, as it can be so helpful in highlighting a sense of balance and proportion within a space--elements which are often at the heart of great design. In fact, I will share that in every shoot that I've ever done for an interior designer or an architect, I've always delivered at least one or two, one-point compositions.
So, what are some other suggestions you can share with Jim to help him in his quest to do great one-points?