top of page

Understanding Shot Sizes in Photography

Photography is an art of storytelling, and one of the crucial elements in visual storytelling is the choice of shot size. The way you frame your subject within the camera's viewfinder can significantly impact the message your photograph conveys. In this article, we'll explore the different types of shot sizes in photography, how to use them effectively, and the storytelling power they hold.

1. Extreme Long Shot (ELS):

  • Also known as an "establishing shot."

  • Captures a vast scene or landscape.

  • Ideal for setting the scene and showing the environment.

  • Often used at the beginning of a story to orient the viewer.

Francisco Acuna Photography
Francisco Acuna Photography


2. Long Shot (LS):

  • Shows the subject from head to toe or more.

  • Emphasizes the subject's environment while still providing a sense of scale.

  • Commonly used in travel and architectural photography.

Francisco Acuna Photography
Francisco Acuna Photography

3. Full Shot (FS):

  • Frames the subject from head to toe.

  • Ideal for capturing a single person or subject.

  • Often used in fashion and portrait photography.

Francisco Acuna Photography
Francisco Acuna Photography

4. Medium Long Shot (MLS):

  • Shows the subject from the knees or waist up.

  • Offers a balance between the subject and their surroundings.

  • Useful for capturing interactions and expressions.

Francisco Acuna Photography
Francisco Acuna Photography

5. Cowboy Shot (AS):

  • The cowboy shot, also known as a "American shot," frames the subject from the knees up.

  • Its name originates from classic Western movies, where it was often used to show the cowboy's gun holsters.

  • This shot size is ideal for capturing a subject's full body and their essential props or accessories.

  • It strikes a balance between showing the subject's body language and including some of the environment.

  • The cowboy shot can be particularly effective when the subject's lower body or stance plays a significant role in the storytelling.

Francisco Acuna Photography
Francisco Acuna Photography

6. Medium Shot (MS):

  • Frames the subject from the waist up.

  • Emphasizes the subject's body language and facial expressions.

  • Commonly used in interviews and narrative photography.

Francisco Acuna Photography
Francisco Acuna Photography

7. Medium Close-Up (MCU):

  • Frames the subject from the chest or shoulders up.

  • Focuses on the subject's face and emotional expressions.

  • Often used in filmmaking to convey character emotions.

Francisco Acuna Photography
Francisco Acuna Photography

8. Close-Up (CU):

  • Shows the subject's face, highlighting details and emotions.

  • Used to convey intense emotions, reactions, or fine details.

  • A staple in portrait, documentary, and macro photography.

Francisco Acuna Photography
Francisco Acuna Photography

9. Extreme Close-Up (ECU):

  • Focuses on a specific feature, such as the eyes or mouth.

  • Highlights intricate details, often conveying intense emotions.

  • Adds depth and intimacy to the shot.

Francisco Acuna Photography
Francisco Acuna Photography

Understanding shot sizes in photography is essential for visual storytelling. Each shot size serves a unique purpose in conveying emotions, context, and the overall message of your image. By choosing the right shot size, you can create compelling photographs that captivate your audience and tell a powerful visual story. Experiment with different shot sizes to master the art of framing and composition in photography.

4 views0 comments
bottom of page