One Scene, Three Ways

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

Think outside the box to create a photo series or gain a new perspective.

#AlexLightwoodphotographytips #photographytips #cozymystery #kariganskephotography #shootthreeways

One of the BEST photography tips I heard when I was first starting in my personal photography journey was to shoot each scene from at least three different angles. I employ this "trick" every single time I pick up my camera. Not only does it create an automatic photo series, but it also captures new details of the moment.

And, more often than not, it is one of the later photos in the series that becomes my favorite.

My family has a tradition of making homemade donuts. Okay, "homemade" might be overstating a little bit. We use canned biscuit mix to create shapes and then fry them in vegetable oil. The frosting is powdered sugar and water. (official "recipe" below) This was always a hit at sleepovers when I was younger, and I knew I wanted to share this tradition with my own girls. And, of course, capture the memory.

Generally, when we go to take a picture, we line up in front of the subject and shoot straight on, like the example below. This is great for formal portraits or to capture the whole scene. But often it doesn't tell the entire story. While I love their matching movement and that Avery is looking at her big sister to match her movements, if I didn't tell you the story of the donuts, there is only a little context as to what is happening.

So, after I snapped these "safety" shots - a more portrait/posed feel, I used the SHOOT THREE WAYS tip to tell more of the story. First, I moved to the side to try to add a different perspective and grab more of the details. Unfortunately, there is a huge window to the left of my oldest daughter that caused a weird haze and dropped the girls in silhouette. Not the look I was going for.

I liked the frame - from the side, including details, more documentary feel - but not the light. So I did what any fortysomething mom would do - I climbed on the chair and shot from above. Whenever possible, I LOVE shooting from above straight down on the subject.... but that's a blog post for another day.

As you can see in the shot below, the viewer can now see what is in the bowls which adds color and detail and, more importantly, helps advance the story. If I had shot this straight on like the photo above, the sprinkle detail would have been lost. I also waited until Avery was dunking her donut in the frosting to add movement.

Finally, I got in close as my oldest daughter, Camden, added sprinkles to her cooked donut. Don't be afraid to zoom in or get close to your subject. Those little details really bring the scene to life. I love the detail of the sprinkles hanging off her fingers. And, if you notice, I chose to leave the bowls in front of her plate to help frame the scene in camera and move the viewer's eye directly to the sprinkle covered donut.

Obviously, anyone who knows me knows that these aren't the only three pictures I took during this memory. I usually try many more than three different angles during a shoot, but even with just these three, you can see the full story start to emerge: making the shapes, add the frosting, loading up with sprinkles.

Alex Lightwood, the main character from the Alex Lightwood Cozy Mystery series, uses this technique in Secrets in a Still Life when she takes pictures by the reservoir upon returning to Piney Ridge. She shoots from above, at an angle, and even gets down on her belly to shoot straight on at the level of the water. I'm sure she'll use this technique in later photo shoots as well ;)

Have you done this in the past? Are you going to try it now? I'd love to know what you capture--be sure to share in the comments below, tag me on Instagram, or drop me an email!

IG: @kariganskephotography

Use the hashtags: #AlexLightwoodphotographytips and #shootthreeways

Can't wait to see your photo series!

Homemade Donut "Recipe"


Can (or more) of ready to cook biscuits - we usually use the buttermilk ones - NOT flaky

Vegetable oil - or other cooking oil of your choice

Confectioner's sugar


Jimmies/Sprinkles/Crushed peanuts/etc for toppings


  1. WASH YOUR HANDS. Then mold the biscuits into shapes. They will puff up and distort a little when cooked, so larger shapes are better. We love small balls (like donut holes), traditional donut shape, letters, and "snakes."

  2. While creating your shapes, heat oil on the stove in a pot. The donuts will float, so you only need about an inch or two in the bottom. It should be hot, but not boiling.

  3. Once your shapes are ready, place them carefully into the oil (watch out, it'll spit!). When one side is golden brown, flip them to cook the other side. You may have to hold the round shapes under with your spatula or slotted spoon. This is only a minute or so, so don't take your eyes off of them!

  4. Let cool on a paper towel.

  5. To make the icing, pour a smidge of powdered sugar into a shallow bowl. Add a little bit of water and mix with a fork. You want the consistency to be like honey. Add sugar and/or water until the consistency is correct. A little goes a long way, so don't feel like you need too much. You can always make more.

  6. We like to put different jimmies and sprinkles and toppings into other small bowls for dipping. The icing acts like glue to hold the toppings on the donuts.

  7. Have fun dipping and eating! They aren't super healthy, but they are good!!

If you try the recipe, definitely let me know how it goes! Did you try different toppings (shredded coconut, perhaps)? Make a cool shape? Bonus points if you include pictures using the Shoot Three Ways method. I'd love to share these on my IG account if allowed.

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