Stairs can really add drama to a busy image or some great details to a plain background. The leading lines that stairs naturally offer tend to draw in the viewers eyes and can really help to frame a shot.
Heres some quick tips to help you look out for more staircases and to add some new images to your photography collection.
1) Use the Light
We all know how incredibly important lighting is in photography. It sets the mood of the whole frame. You will often find contrasting lighting situations at the top and bottom of stairs. As you go from one room to the next the lighting can drastically change.
Think about the scene and environment. Can you add a spooky theme inside a castle or add a quirky and colourful theme inside a nightclub?
2) Add Perspective
If a staircase is particularly interesting it may be worth putting something familiar into the frame to add some perspective.
Imagine you are shooting a super modern staircase, maybe you want to add something old to add some contrast. If the walkway is huge then add a person to show its vastness.
3) Shoot At Night
Night time brings new light and new feelings to an environment. If you can get the staircase in front of you well lit or partially lit you can focus on details that may not be as obvious in the day.
Stone steps tend to look more dramatic under a well lit streetlamp for example.
Think about how the light hits the stairs. Where are the shadows? Can they add to the image even more? Can the shadows become the main subject?
5) Use a Drone
Shooting from above can create a completely new angle and perspective. You get less of a sense of depth but you can show shapes and curves of stairs.
6) Leading Lines
Leading lines should walk the viewer through a frame. Think about where you want your viewer to look and use the stairs to manipulate this. Can you force them to your main subject using stairs?
This works really well in portrait photography. If you get your subject to stand at the top of the stairs then the stairs naturally lead the viewer to your main subject.
7) Not All Stairs Are Straight
Spiral staircases can really fill a frame and walk the viewer through the whole frame. Thank about where the spiral starts and end. Your main subject, if there is one, should be at the end of the spiral as thats where the eyes will go.
If you can get the spiral starting in one of the corners of your frame it always looks more pleasing to the eye.
8) Simplicity in Contrasts
Some of the greatest stair photography shots really make you look. Sharp contrasts between stairs and a background can add a new and unique frame.
Try to keep these shots as minimalist as possible. Less is more. If you have to look twice to even realise that the image contains a staircase then even better.
9) Use Side Streets
If you are in a hilly town or city you will often find some delightfully small staircases off the beaten track. These areas will also be less busy so you can spend more time concentrating on getting different angles and perspectives.
10) Keep Your Eyes Out
When you look for staircases you will really start to notice them all over. Theres so many ways to use them to your advantage and to create some great images to add to your portfolio.
Don’t forget to look up. In bigger cities with flats and high rise buildings you may notice stairs all the way up the side of buildings.