How I Shoot: Creating #swayingstructures with @renecharlesrichie

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the set-up and process behind their photos and videos. For more from René Charles Ritchie’s series, explore the #swayingstructures hashtag and follow @renecharlesritchie on Instagram.

"The moment an iPhone landed in my hands, it was over. I was documenting everything," says Instagrammer René Charles Ritchie (@renecharlesritchie) from Portland, Oregon, who has always been passionate about capturing photos and videos.

One day, when he was out shooting and experimenting with his iPhone’s panorama feature, he ended up with an unexpected effect. “I was taking a vertical panorama photo of a building and didn’t keep the phone straight. The result turned out to be pretty cool.” The accidental tilt as René Charles moved his phone caused a distortion in his photo, making it seem as though the building was swaying or leaning to the side.

"My first couple posts got some really cool feedback," René Charles says. He started a hashtag for the effect, #swayingstructures, and loves seeing how it’s started to catch on in the community. “I actually think a lot of people are better than I am at the technique. I let a few people in on the secret of how to take a #swayingstructures photo and was blown away by their posts. Every time I see one coming through my feed, I get really excited.”

Want to try creating your own #swayingstructures photo? René Charles provides the following tips:


iPhone 4S or above

Vantage Point

"It all depends on what angle you want to get. I usually like my structures to lean up into a vanishing point. To achieve this I stand maybe twenty feet in front of the building. (This often puts me in the middle of the street.)"


"Once you’ve found the building you want to sway, you take a vertical panorama of it. So, instead of side to side, pan upwards. While you are panning upwards, you tilt your phone to the left or right to ‘sway’ the building. I find the best technique is to lock my arms and bend my body rather than just the phone. This helps to get smoother edges. It usually takes me about ten shots before I get one that looks natural."


"I usually use an app called Afterlight (iOS and Android). It has a pretty simple interface and I love the adjustable filters. If I am using a filter, I’ll use Russ, Coral or Lume—and then maybe a little vignette to help with the focal point. I’ve been finding lately, though, that less is more when editing a photo. So I’ll maybe just turn up the shadows 30%, if at all, before posting.”


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