How we achieve our overhead photos

We have been posting a few overhead shots lately and so far the comments we have received on them have been really positive. Quite a few people have asked how we manage to achieve them, so we thought it might be helpful to actually show how we do it!

You might have considered these questions too…

Was there another person in the room?
Did you hang your camera from the lightbulb?
Did you hang your camera on the ceiling fan?

The answer is, none of the above.

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It’s actually pretty simple, providing you have the necessary equipment. All too often you see tutorials on how to make or create something, and more often than not it involves things you don’t have or equipment you simply don’t happen to have lying around.

So I will start off with our kit list, but please remember there will be lots of others ways of being able to create this look but this is just what we happened to have:

1 x Camera – Any DSLR / Compact / Micro 4/3 will do

1 x Photographic background support system – we bought ours from Amazon here (an alternative that springs to mind is a freestanding clothes rail)

1 x C-Clamp with spring clip holder – we bought ours from Amazon here

1 x Joby GorillaPod Tripod – we bought ours from Amazon here

1 x Wide Angle Lens (this is what we used) – Sigma 19mm f/2.8 DN MFT Fit Lens, which you guessed it, we bought from Amazon here for my Olympus Pen E-PL7

I just wanted to clarify here that we aren’t promoting Amazon or anything like that, nor do we have any loyalty, it’s just we have a prime membership so we thought that we’d put it to good use.


First off I wanted to share the camera settings we always use on these shots which are:

  • Shutter speed 1/50 or 1/100
  • Aperture 2.8
  • ISO 200

If you aren’t comfortable shooting in manual mode or your camera doesn’t have manual mode, using auto will be okay but you just won’t be able to have the same control over the look of the photo. In our case, we like a darker more contrast effect, so we also shoot the same time of the day where the sun (when there is any left) is lower, as this gives nice soft highlights on the people in the photos.

When it comes to the overhead shots that don’t include my husband, he achieves the overhead shot by literally just standing on a chair and hovering over us. He attaches the camera to the GorillaPod, sets the camera to timer (3 – 5 seconds is plenty), focuses the shot by pressing down half way on the shutter and then presses the shutter all the way to start the timer.

Here he is in action!


However, when it comes to including all of us in the photo it becomes a little bit more fiddly and it’s thanks to Kara over at Innocent Charms Chat who set us the challenge of including all five of us.

With a group shot, we set up the two tripods either side of the bed and connected them together using the support pole (the photographic background support system has everything included to create the goal posts as shown below).



On the support pole we connect the C-Clamp with the spring clip holder in the very centre and then connect the camera to the GorillaPod and place the GorillaPod in the spring clip holder as shown below.



Then as with the shots where my husband takes the photos by leaning over, he will set the camera on timer (10 seconds this time as he needs time to get back down into position), focuses the shot by pressing down half way on the shutter and then presses the shutter all the way to start the timer. If your camera has the functionality, you can always connect it to your phone and use the phone to focus and take the photo which is much easier than constantly getting up and down to take the photo (that way you can move your phone out of view before it takes a shot).


Here are the photos of this particular set up above.



So that’s how we achieve the look in our overhead photos. As you can see, not a lightbulb, ceiling fan or secret other person in sight.

We are looking to take this a step further soon, by getting creative using this set up. So keep your eyes peeled on my Instagram (@whathannahdidnext) and my husband’s Instagram (@whatalexdid) for our new shots.

Also, if you do get involved trying out these overhead style shots then we would love for you to share them with us. We have created our own hashtag on Instagram called #capturesfromabove – so please get involved and we look forward to seeing your overhead shots πŸ™‚

Thanks for reading and we hope you can take something away from this post as coming up over the next few months, we will be sharing more tips and tricks like this, including how to optimise your GoPro’s for video, photos and timelapses.