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|| News Item: Posted 2011-08-07

Tilt Or Not To Tilt …That Is The Question
By Trent Nelson, The Salt Lake Tribune

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Love it. Hate it. Some ridicule. Others admire. Every photographer and picture editor has an opinion on tilting photographs. The Sports Shooter Newsletter asked several photographers for their personal thoughts on this topic.)

Photo by Trent Nelson, The Salt Lake Tribune

Photo by Trent Nelson, The Salt Lake Tribune

Trent Nelson trying to get the bubble level on his hot shoe perfectly un-tilted...
Don't worry... Like Mark J. Rebilas on race day I am wearing a NASCAR-approved fireproof safety suit, ready for the angry heat and flames you're about to send my way for expressing this... In the charged conversation against tilted horizons I offer this advice to photographers: Tilt away!

Earlier this year, veteran photojournalist Bill Luster, posted this on Facebook:
"Why do young photographers want to tilt their frame every time they get a chance? David Burnett doesn’t do it, David Alan Harvey doesn’t do it, Bill Allard doesn’t do it, W. Eugene Smith didn’t do it? I am so sick of it! It is dishonoring the craft of photography One difference: the photographers I mentioned and many more include one the only important thing: CONTENT"

First things first: People can disagree and still respect each other. I have great respect for Bill Luster and the many photographers who agreed with his point. Their work stands for itself as brilliant.

But I'm just not with them on this one. I mean, by tilting the frame you’re dishonoring photography? I don't see what all the fuss is about.

Don't be mistaken, fellow tilters, we're not going to become famous international photographers simply because we have keffiyehs around our necks and portfolios full of tilted black and white photographs. Tilting the frame is risky as hell, like playing Russian roulette. A photo lives or dies with the tilt—there is no in between. And the tilt kills far more photos than it saves.

When you find yourself in a mediocre photo situation, simply tilting your camera is probably the worst thing you can do. You're better off changing your position or switching to a different lens. When tilting works it should almost go unnoticed by viewer. A bad tilt sticks out like a big ugly zit in the middle of your forehead.
Tilting the frame is no fix for mediocre seeing.

A great photographer doesn’t tilt the frame intentionally, creating an artificial style. I think it’s more organic. She follows her creative spirit and sometimes that results in a tilted composition. When it comes from the heart and it works, I love the tilt.

Trent Nelson’ Sports Shooter member page:

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