Hold Your Camera on an Angle

0Comments

This post belongs to our series of posts on breaking rules of photography to get great images.

One of the ‘rules’ of photography that I talked about very early in the development of Digital Photography School was to do everything you can to keep your images ‘straight’ (and your horizons horizontal).

There are a lot of instances when you’d want to follow this rule pretty carefully (like in most landscapes where a horizon should probably be straight) – but breaking it can lead to images with drama, a feeling of energy and action and fun.

The key with breaking this rule is to not to ‘slightly break it’ (or you’ll have people wondering if you meant it or not) but to give your wrist a real twist and to break it obviously.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • Matt

    I think it is interesting to see in the example photo that other rules have been followed. The model is vertical and the vanishing point is located near a vertical third division also.

    Great post, and I love to see examples of ‘acceptable’ rule breaking. Looking forward to the following posts.

  • In the last wedding I was in the photographer did this on every picture. I remember getting frustrated over him constantly taking pictures with a twist. I’m sure he meant to, obviously, but being an amateur this seemed silly. I have seen his pictures, and while I still think he overdid it, many of them look great.

  • I love doing that with a wide lens, like Sigma 10-20mm, with architecture shots choosing different lines of alignment.. break it all! 🙂

  • XmasB – yes it can definitely be overdone but makes a nice occasional twist.

  • I do this with almost every shoot. I get great feedback from my subjects, and I don’t even think they realize that it’s the angle that makes the biggest difference.

  • calinite17

    Once when I was a bridesmaid, the photographer took a close up shot of the bride and I, and tilted the camera slightly to minimize the height difference. Since our faces filled most of the frame, and the background was blurry, you didn’t notice it was slightly off.

  • calinite17

    Here’s the picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9244400@N03/1048585291/

    Actually, the background isn’t blurry, and if you look it’s very obvious it’s tilted. Yet, this is one of my favorite pictures (obviously because of the people). What do you think?

  • Deb

    I love doing this when something intense happens during evacuation training…

    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1318/1061355109_c6f178c4b3.jpg

  • Lana

    In this pic and a few others I have seen it works but more often than not to me it looks terrible. Gives the feeling of falling over. Especially in full body standing portraits.

  • bogart

    It adds mood to wacky pictures. For me it can be used to add height to your pictures…

  • Heidi

    A recent trip to New York City; my first time there and it was an “overwelmingly-bigger-than-life-awesome” experience. I wanted to “portray” this feeling to friends and family back home in northern Alberta, Canada so I used this “tilt” method to capture the moments in a unique imagery. It worked!

  • Paul

    Hey folks, have just subscribed after buying my first DSLR and love the tips and comments. Keep up the great posts and ideas, I have found a new ‘favourite’ place.

  • Darren

    Hi everyone,

    On a recent trip to South Africa, I took this picture:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/darrenborland/3160016202/in/set-72157612059234400/

    Its one I framed as part of a safari collage and really looks the part.

    PS – This website is fantastic – thank you.

  • Hello every one,
    below are some of the pictures which i had taken long back, using this rule..:)

    Black forest : http://www.flickr.com/photos/ankipraveen/1349870903/
    London : http://www.flickr.com/photos/ankipraveen/1385908353/

    comments welcome.

  • Steve Smith

    This is a great picture and a great method that I use on quite a regular basis. I use it mainly on studio portraiture, buildings and my favourite – when I am photographing MotoX racing. In the MotoX racing it can give some really dramatic pictures and give a sense that the rider has jumped a lot higher then he/she actually has.

  • April

    My daughter did this while taking pictures of some guest at our house, and I was really amazed at the results, and a little envious that someone that did not pick up the camera as much as I have had the eye to see the possiblities of shotting this way. I like, I like.

  • katka

    Was the picture somehow post-processed? I mean, how is it possible that the girl’s arm is almost longer than her feet?

  • Ceri

    This is one rule I love breaking, and a lot of friends when seeing the end result loved the pictures that it produces. I posted one picture on a website I use to show my work, and someone ‘told me off’ for angling my camera. I was like it was the entire point to create the finish that I got for the picture.
    I’ve used it a lot in gig pictures and they have always worked well, and I fell have given more depth the the picture. Also I did a set of London Underground pictures and they came out superb so keep on rule breaking!
    Anyway, yes it is a fave rule of mine to break and I will keep breaking it as long as the images keep coming back super.

  • christel

    Hej, When I angle the camera is there anything I should think of? I have taken some photos with 45 degee angle and i try to follow thi lines up wards!
    Thank yor replyes!

  • christel

    Hi, When I angle the camera is there anything i need to consider?
    I have tryed to do it 45 degree?
    It looks so cool!
    Thank you for your replys!

  • I occasionally compose using an angle, as I’ve also found that it brings much more dynamism to the shot. This is one of my images where it worked well.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnmckeen/5625865536/in/set-72157626189588051

  • calinite17 Says:

    Actually, the background isn’t blurry, and if you look it’s very obvious it’s tilted. Yet, this is one of my favorite pictures (obviously because of the people). What do you think?

    I like this pic… I think because it almost appears to be an optical illusion. the right side of the picture (as a whole) looks smaller and the left it appears to get larger.

  • astro

    In you photo you still have the rule of third, and the object (in this case the jumping girl) is in parallel with your frame. In my opinion this is why the photo looks great. Can you comment more on where/how to break the rules please?

  • RM

    camera is heald on an angle (as the title states)

Some Older Comments

  • Jessica H. March 31, 2012 05:30 am

    calinite17 Says:

    Actually, the background isn’t blurry, and if you look it’s very obvious it’s tilted. Yet, this is one of my favorite pictures (obviously because of the people). What do you think?

    I like this pic... I think because it almost appears to be an optical illusion. the right side of the picture (as a whole) looks smaller and the left it appears to get larger.

  • John McKeen September 30, 2011 02:01 am

    I occasionally compose using an angle, as I've also found that it brings much more dynamism to the shot. This is one of my images where it worked well.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnmckeen/5625865536/in/set-72157626189588051

  • christel August 14, 2011 03:59 pm

    Hi, When I angle the camera is there anything i need to consider?
    I have tryed to do it 45 degree?
    It looks so cool!
    Thank you for your replys!

  • christel August 14, 2011 03:54 pm

    Hej, When I angle the camera is there anything I should think of? I have taken some photos with 45 degee angle and i try to follow thi lines up wards!
    Thank yor replyes!

  • Ceri August 6, 2010 05:58 am

    This is one rule I love breaking, and a lot of friends when seeing the end result loved the pictures that it produces. I posted one picture on a website I use to show my work, and someone 'told me off' for angling my camera. I was like it was the entire point to create the finish that I got for the picture.
    I've used it a lot in gig pictures and they have always worked well, and I fell have given more depth the the picture. Also I did a set of London Underground pictures and they came out superb so keep on rule breaking!
    Anyway, yes it is a fave rule of mine to break and I will keep breaking it as long as the images keep coming back super.

  • katka March 27, 2010 10:26 pm

    Was the picture somehow post-processed? I mean, how is it possible that the girl's arm is almost longer than her feet?

  • April February 27, 2009 05:11 am

    My daughter did this while taking pictures of some guest at our house, and I was really amazed at the results, and a little envious that someone that did not pick up the camera as much as I have had the eye to see the possiblities of shotting this way. I like, I like.

  • Steve Smith February 27, 2009 03:36 am

    This is a great picture and a great method that I use on quite a regular basis. I use it mainly on studio portraiture, buildings and my favourite - when I am photographing MotoX racing. In the MotoX racing it can give some really dramatic pictures and give a sense that the rider has jumped a lot higher then he/she actually has.

  • Praveen February 24, 2009 06:59 pm

    Hello every one,
    below are some of the pictures which i had taken long back, using this rule..:)

    Black forest : http://www.flickr.com/photos/ankipraveen/1349870903/
    London : http://www.flickr.com/photos/ankipraveen/1385908353/

    comments welcome.

  • Darren February 19, 2009 08:15 pm

    Hi everyone,

    On a recent trip to South Africa, I took this picture:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/darrenborland/3160016202/in/set-72157612059234400/

    Its one I framed as part of a safari collage and really looks the part.

    PS - This website is fantastic - thank you.

  • Paul December 9, 2008 05:36 pm

    Hey folks, have just subscribed after buying my first DSLR and love the tips and comments. Keep up the great posts and ideas, I have found a new 'favourite' place.

  • Heidi November 20, 2008 03:53 am

    A recent trip to New York City; my first time there and it was an "overwelmingly-bigger-than-life-awesome" experience. I wanted to "portray" this feeling to friends and family back home in northern Alberta, Canada so I used this "tilt" method to capture the moments in a unique imagery. It worked!

  • bogart June 26, 2008 04:12 pm

    It adds mood to wacky pictures. For me it can be used to add height to your pictures...

  • Lana April 26, 2008 03:29 am

    In this pic and a few others I have seen it works but more often than not to me it looks terrible. Gives the feeling of falling over. Especially in full body standing portraits.

  • Deb August 10, 2007 12:57 am

    I love doing this when something intense happens during evacuation training...

    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1318/1061355109_c6f178c4b3.jpg

  • calinite17 August 8, 2007 07:38 pm

    Here's the picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9244400@N03/1048585291/

    Actually, the background isn't blurry, and if you look it's very obvious it's tilted. Yet, this is one of my favorite pictures (obviously because of the people). What do you think?

  • calinite17 August 8, 2007 07:31 pm

    Once when I was a bridesmaid, the photographer took a close up shot of the bride and I, and tilted the camera slightly to minimize the height difference. Since our faces filled most of the frame, and the background was blurry, you didn't notice it was slightly off.

  • Emily Ramsey August 8, 2007 12:42 am

    I do this with almost every shoot. I get great feedback from my subjects, and I don't even think they realize that it's the angle that makes the biggest difference.

  • Darren August 7, 2007 07:42 am

    XmasB - yes it can definitely be overdone but makes a nice occasional twist.

  • yaNN :: world within August 7, 2007 04:20 am

    I love doing that with a wide lens, like Sigma 10-20mm, with architecture shots choosing different lines of alignment.. break it all! :)

  • XmasB August 7, 2007 03:06 am

    In the last wedding I was in the photographer did this on every picture. I remember getting frustrated over him constantly taking pictures with a twist. I'm sure he meant to, obviously, but being an amateur this seemed silly. I have seen his pictures, and while I still think he overdid it, many of them look great.

  • Matt August 7, 2007 01:29 am

    I think it is interesting to see in the example photo that other rules have been followed. The model is vertical and the vanishing point is located near a vertical third division also.

    Great post, and I love to see examples of 'acceptable' rule breaking. Looking forward to the following posts.

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