Shake up your compositions for dynamic images
By Derek Doeffinger
December 31, 2008
Skill-wise, this is one of the easiest tips to execute. Attitude-wise, some of you may not find it so easy to do.
The only skill you need is to hold your camera crooked, or as I like to say--cockeyed and crazy.
Doing so will seem to tilt your subjects within the picture, giving them that fresh, contemporary look that says "Hey, I'm with it, I'm hip"—even if you aren't.
Holding the camera at a distinct tilt energizes many scenes and works well with this urban landscape.
Some tipping points
Why do this? Because holding the camera crooked can occasionally, when used with the appropriate subject, invigorate, enliven, and otherwise animate your photos. Sure, most of us have grown up being told by somebody or other to hold the camera straight so the edges of the picture run parallel to important subject lines, such as people, buildings, cars, horizons, and so forth. Makes perfect sense.
But the constancy of observing convention becomes boring. So it's time to free your inner rebel.
Tilt those horizons!
Moreover, conventions are a changing. With thousands of rebellious young creators of video and multimedia flooding the internet with their works and jockeying to break through the tedium, all rules are broken and new techniques taking hold. One of these techniques transferable to still photo media is tilting the camera.
Rocketing waverunners are another subject well suited for the frenetic boost that comes from tilting the camera.
So the next time you're out shooting, pick a few subjects--a runner, a jogger, a partying bride, a crowd moving down the sidewalk--and take a dozen or so shots by tilting the camera. Usually, a tilt of thirty degrees or so will nicely upset the balance without looking like you tripped and accidentally took a picture while falling.
To give yourself some adjustment flexibility frame the subject loosely, leaving lots of room around the primary picture area. Then in Photoshop you can adjust the tilt to your tastes.