The classic shot vs the new shot

It’s usually classic for a reason.

People come to the crag, take banger photos, post them to social media, and every once in a while a new classic angle is born! A new favorite angle to look at that rock. Insta posts pop up everywhere with at same angle, its great. Its also awesome for the general climber as it gives them a good idea of where to take their trip proj photo from! Classic shots are awesome and props to everyone who took that first shot from that perfect angle!

The day after Lizzy Ellison sent Beyond Life in an amazing nighttime solo sesh we drove back and had a quick photo shoot! She always dreamed of having the classic shot which originally got her psyched to project the climb; the shot of the first move of the climb. Always with the climber coming towards the camera towards the rail. I shot mine a decent bit higher than the actual classic Beyond Life shot to show all of the holds better but its close! The real classic shows the climbers facial expression and eyes better.


See the classic angle vs how I shot Beyond Life below!

So shot #1, the classic!

Ive never been one to line a shot up for the reason that it’s the same as everyone else’ shot. I knew the general shot she wanted so from the same direction, I, a 6’6” +4 wingspan human, held my camera above my head. The goal: the ability to see every point of contact with the rock. The classic is classic for a reason since it shows the unique holds and movement on this climb extremely well! With my higher than average vantage point I wanted to shoot a photo that showed every hold in a way you could see how big/ small it is which I feel I captured well. Also the landing was important for me to have in the photo. It’s sketch. Tiered landings are not my favorite to fall on from a heel hook!

Shot #2, my first composition

I wanted another angle that showed every contact point but get a better angle of my subjects face. Also notice how in every shot I separate my subject from the wall creating a lot more depth in the photos. Another thought when taking this shot was the interesting view up the long rail letting the viewer see what the hold she is going to looks like.

Shot #3, my second composition

Same thought process as shot one. I noticed this brief moment between moves where she looks through to spot the foot move. A few changes I enjoyed were the less cluttered composition, the addition of a reflector underneath to help light the subject, and the darker shadows on the rock face.

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Copying photos

I personally won’t copy other peoples work. I figure, why would I want to try to shoot something without trying to be creative? Don’t copy, take influence from photos!

Influence: To have an effect on the development of something

Copy: A thing to be made similar or identical to another

Don’t scroll through and see some insta persons banger photo, go to that location, line everything up the exact same, and take the photo. I see how when figuring out compositions this could be useful, but here are my thoughts on the subject:

Did you see a photo with an angle you want to shoot? Shoot it! But don’t use the photo as a reference while composing the shot. Use your imagination, play with foregrounds, zooming, standing, ground level, etc. Having a loose plan when shooting with wiggle room for originality is what will help you learn more about composition!

I actually have a rule for myself when shooting. I won’t let myself look at anyones photos of what I’m trying to shoot before heading out. If I look at other peoples photos I feel more pull to shoot the same angle as them. By going into every shot with no preconceived compositions Its easier for me to really explore the surrounding area and figure out what the best angle really is!

Check out the two photos below

They’re very similar-I shot the photos one year apart. I typically wouldn’t get this close to copying an angle, but I decided to shoot it again from the same general spot to see how much I’ve improved. Back in 2015, I didn’t understand the concept of using a foreground as a way to lead into your subject. I also started giving my climber a place to fall, which makes it a better composition in my opinion. My understanding behind underexposing in camera was also developed sometime between these photos!


If you’re learning composition, awesome! Take influence from other photographers work and keep what you’ve learned in mind the net time you go out and shoot! Most of all, get out and take way too many photos of the same thing to find what looks best!