Our photographer is taking pictures of food dishes, which I then need to add to a web design. The photos he sends me are almost frontal, which forces me to distort them so the contents can be seen well. Even though it looks better, the end result to my eyes is a distorted photo. Our professional relationship is via chat. Since I don't know the framing name, I made him a comparative explanation to send with terms...let's say... a little unprofessional:

The photos are shaped like a rugby ball (left) and should be shaped like a crab shell (right, it's already retouched and distorted, but it's the same picture)


I also sent him a diagram:


I explained all this to him more than once, but over time he forgets and returns to the same type of photo as at the beginning. That's why I'd like to find a specific name so that he'll Google it and remember. Rugby ball and crab shell, while illustrative are not the kind of professional words I like to use 😕 .

My searches give me results with technical terminology: so many degrees, angle of inclination, which is worse than my "sporty-wildlife terminology", nothing like "zenithal" for example. Is that exist?

Seen from the side, the composition would be something like this, the front camera tilted above 45º:

enter image description here

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Your shooting schematic is pretty descriptive and easy to understand. Or, take a series of shots at different angles and label them "NO" and "YES". If you really want to confuse the photographer, I would say "shoot at 20° to 30° from nadir", or whatever angle you find appropriate. \$\endgroup\$
    – qrk
    Commented Mar 24, 2022 at 23:57
  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ Call the angle you want, “I will pay for this.” Call the lower angle, “you won’t get paid.” Follow through accordingly. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 0:04
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Seems odd that someone (photographer or not) couldn't understand (and remember!) what you actually want. Maybe consider hiring someone else? \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 10:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @BobMacaroniMcStevens - this should be an answer [or THE answer] ;). A sure-fire way to get someone's attention is for it to cost them when they don't listen. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 11:34

3 Answers 3


I used to do a lot of mechanical drafting. We would define a particular view that you are describing in terms of oblique angle from the normal, where normal is the orthogonal view – that is, the perpendicular view, from directly above the plate looking straight down.

All you need to do is specify the angle that the center of the lens is pointing at the center of the plate. In drafting, we would describe this angle as degrees less than 90º (where 90º is the top-down angle looking at the plate, and angles less than 90º appear more and more like the left (undesirable) image you show).

As an example, we would use ellipse templates that showed what a circle (usually a hole drilled in a part) would look like at different oblique angles:

oblique ellipse drafting template

From the template, you can see that ellipses (i.e., plate of food) that are increasingly more circular correspond to higher angles, culminating in perfect circles that are just "90º ellipses".

  • \$\begingroup\$ Love that tool, I'll look on the internet to buy it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Danielillo
    Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 9:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you store that template under or on top of your Leroy set? ;) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 16:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BobMacaroniMcStevens lol! Never had a Leroy, but always loved them. I only ever used Ames lettering line guides, and tried really hard to emulate the architectural lettering style. \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 23:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BobMacaroniMcStevens I'm googling every word of the comments, I love everything, even if half of the things I don't know what they are for Museum of Obsolete Drafting Technology \$\endgroup\$
    – Danielillo
    Commented Mar 27, 2022 at 22:44
  1. "Take pictures from an aerial view, or top down."

If you can accept good-enough and don't want to risk more back-and-forths, this would be least ambiguous, but lose the nuanced angle you suggest.

You can refer to the camera tilt --

  1. "Camera should be tilted/pointing almost completely straight down."

There are reasons why you might avoid the following, but from a "teaching" standpoint, and a more technically sound one, you should be more clear about exactly what in the picture needs to be emphasized and/or what the end goal is. For example,

  1. "We want pictures that maximize the detail from an aerial view, but maintain a little depth."
  2. "The customer needs to be able to see everything on the plate and be able to clearly tell how much space each item takes up."

'Top view, not side view please'.

But from what you say, he's got the message. The problem is not understanding it but remembering it!


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