Home Forums Let’s Talk Photography Can someone explain the tilt shots?

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    Hi all,

    I’m new here-an eternal hobbyist photographer who gets the occasional nice shot. I follow many photographers who do portraits (professionally) and I am seeing the tilt shot a LOT.  I mean tilting as the horizon line going diagonal, not to lengthen the look of the subject.

    I can see for web, like a profile pic for a business photo-something to be used in graphic design maybe? But for a portrait that you know will be printed and probably hung on a wall it just…bothers me. I’ve got my eggs in other baskets so I don’t avidly study photography like you guys do. I have ONE tilt shot I took of my toddling baby girl and well, let’s just say the photo shows she was about to fall over, lol. I did it because she was moving very fast and I was more worried about cutting off her feet but now there’s no room to straighten and crop it so…

    Is there some insider photography logic behind this or some trend that grew out of another area and made its crooked way to people’s straight hanging frames? Sometimes it adds a different perspective, I guess but all I can think is “How will that look when its framed??”

    Candid? Okay, sure.

    Studio Portrait? Eh….I just don’t get it.

    Help me understand!


    The tilt can work really well if you have a moment with lot of action in it, think a mountainbiker coming along or something like that. It can work with toddlers etc but I don’t understand why for weddings. So no, I don’t understand why you would for a posed portrait unless you intend on to hang it crooked or make some kind of collage where you want things to be irregular.


    Some scenes don’t have a horizon or any lines that should obviously be vertical or horizontal, so “straight” becomes an abstract concept anyway.  Extreme sports usually have wild angles and shots taken on the side of a mountain probably will not have a flat, horizontal,  horizon.  Some studio portraits have the subject leaning and twisting a bit to emphasize shape, or to hide fat and wrinkles.

    It would help to see some samples of what you have been looking at.  For your own photo, if the background is reasonably plain, you can rotate the image and clone in a little at the edges to fill out the new frame instead of cropping.




    I never do a whole shoot on the wonk, but the customers often choose the one that is.


    Lol, @Worst Case scenario-that doesn’t bother me. It isn’t too crooked and they look fun and a bit crazy anyway so it works. Thanks for the feedback, all-I guess I need to branch out 🙂 I don’t want to call out the person who posted the diagonal baby but it was enough to make me finally sign up and ask you all about it. Her photos are good, it was just that one that made me think “Really?”

    This is the photo I took a while back that I can’t decide if I like or not. Well, of course my mommy goggles add to the issue-but as a photo in general. There are a lot of lines.




    Looks okay to me, if I’m being picky it would be better with some more space below the feet. Pictures on a slant often have the feel of a news crew grabbing a shot, it can inpart a sense of action into a still picture.


    it’s just a sign of people who either don’t know what they are doing or who are trying to be creative but lack that ability…or both. I took those kinds of pictures in college. That is really what the tilt is for…college. So the “those that can’t do, teach” professor can say something like “interesting angle”.

    For someone who has a difficult time keeping things straight and is always trying to fix the perspective and distortion of his lenses to make things straight, I find people who do this absolutely annoying. I don’t understand if you are using photography to emphasize a subject, why you’d want to make it confusing with wonky angles. Don’t make no sense!

    That said, there are times when it works. It is those times when it only draws more attention to the subject. And that tilt is not going to be noticeable to the viewer. Those things which are most important will be the focal point.


    To help you decide…

    It looks a little washed out to me, so I would be inclined to adjust  it more, but this has only been rotated and filled.  Otherwise it is as you provided it.



    Yes, I was pretty bummed I still managed to cut her toe off a bit 🙂

    Thanks for that, Cameraclicker-I do like that better. I feel as though there are already enough angles behind her so having her on an angle was overkill. I agree she’s a bit washed out-I’m still learning about the editing process.  Does the boardwalk seems a little too cool, also?

    I did get the vibe over the photographers photo that she was trying out the “creative perspective” point because instead of making the subject pop (she tends to oversparkle eyes sometimes, imho) it made the subject harder to see because it was confusing. But again, I’m no pro so I didn’t know if it was my lack of knowledge or the picture.

    So now I will have a better idea for if/when the tilt is okay to use when I’m out and about dabbling in movement. I mainly use my photos as references for future paintings so the criteria is different-meaning doesn’t have to be a perfect overall photo, lol but a decent one helps.


    Weathered wood goes that colour sometimes.  We have a couple of miles of boardwalk that looks grey, like that.  The posts behind her are warmer.  I would leave it.


    I do it sometimes. I used to do it more until people critiqued that I did it too much. Now I save it for when it seems a composition warrants it more, or to add a dynamic element. Either way I do it with more intent now and sometimes will shoot one straight and one tilted and decide which I prefer later.

    One application I see fit is when the subject is leaning or has their head tilted, and you want to put the eyes on a straight plane but slant the rest.

    This one I shot both straight and tilted. His head is leaning a bit, and in the end, I liked the tilted photo better. It felt like there was more connection to his face and the angled line of the chimney added some interest. This may be a matter of opinion. I’m sure some people would have preferred this straight.


    This one is a fun shot of my friend. I liked the angled look of the bricks in the background.


    This one I probably should have shot straight. In hindsight it seems like she’s going to tip over.


    This one I did on purpose. They were standing on a hill too, but I thought this added some interest and a change of visual weight to their pose.


    Not a portrait, but the angled lines added interest.


    This was with intent. It was to create movement.


    This I tilted to keep her eyes on a straight plane, but I think I might have tilted it too much. I should have found a happy medium because now his eyes are tilted.

    Steph and Adam - Engagement

    Another where I used it to balance out the tilt of her head.


    I should NOT have done it here. There is nothing to balance it out.


    Should NOT have done it here either. My intention was a tight crop that also included the neat milk crate, but it just makes me tip my head. I have a few others similar to this that I shot straight-on and like better. (This is my friend who is also a photographer).


    I used it here to emphasize motion, though I used it too much within this set. Some work and some I don’t think do.


    I like it here. It was to get the rifle in the frame yet keep a close, dynamic crop.


    I think it’s fun here


    but does not add anything here


    This was done also to balance her eyes out.


    Again, I did it a lot more in my earlier work. I keep it minimal now. I think it also works better in close crops and looks a bit weird when more of the horizon/horizontal plane is visible.


    Now see, those are more strategic and when I think of them in a frame (on a wall or desk) the only one that made me wonder was the XO family shot.  In those examples the tilt isn’t extreme and yes, to straighten out the eyes or add an angle to another element in the shot I see it can work under the right circumstances.

    It’s seems to be something that needs to be practiced with outside of professional work, though.  I was trying to find a relevant example of the photo I saw and this is all I could come up with, lol only with closely cropped baby…who was also crooked. http://laughingsquid.com/tilt-photo-series-of-people-leaning-in-a-tilted-new-york-city/ Whether it’s framed horizontally or vertically you would have to really tip your head to see the subject. The baby was cute enough to not need a bunch of creative help 🙂


    Works here:


    sort of works here, but I’d have liked to see this one straight as well:


    and works here:


    But doesn’t really work anywhere else.


    interesting. seems this site works well to embed images from flickr but not much else.


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