Portrait vs Landscape

I talked earlier about the many small choices a photographer makes when composing an image and often the first decision you will make is will you shoot the scene in a landscape or portrait orientation.

Now that Instagram has decided it’s ok to post an image beyond a simple square, the issue of portrait vs landscape is a question we can take up, discuss and ultimately come to no conclusions on.

Care to join me?

Even before Instagram made this momentous decision of allowing non square images to be posted, I have been struggling with image orientation. Personally I prefer to shoot my images in portrait mode, this is probably due to so many years photographing the human body. I simply enjoy the long vertical axis of an image. When I am shooting a LEGO mini figure this way I enjoy the vast expanse of empty space that is often left which I like to fill with abstract colors and texture. Unfortunately when posting to this blog I always need to have a few landscape images in my portfolio to use as header images (those images you see at the top of each blog post).

It is amazing how one simple addition to my life, like writing for this blog, has changed the way I view my photography and how I shoot on a daily basis. Whenever I am out on a photo shoot I will continue to shoot in a portrait orientation (generally trying to observe the rule of thirds), but when I see something good going on in my view finder I will quickly change to horizontal mode and grab a few images for use on the blog.

Here is an image I took last month that I am quite fond of. Unfortunately I have yet to decide which rotation I prefer, landscape or portrait.



Heres is another example of how much an image can change with a simple flip of orientation.

Watermarked Photo (2015-09-19-0930)-2


My questions to you are:

  •  When you look through your view finder, or at your LCD screen, do you compose your shot based on the subject?
  • Do you compose your shots based on a preferred orientation?
  • Now that Instagram is allowing images beyond the basic square, are you tempted to upload your images full frame?
  • Do you prefer the square format on Instagram?
  • Do you like to mix it up and keep your audience on its toes?

I hope you will join the discussion and we can drop down this rabbit hole together.

~ xxSJC

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8 years ago

I haven’t been using Instagram that long, but I’m already used to taking square photos. Even when I use a DSLR to take photos, I often take landscape photos and crop them to squares. I think I will have to experiment with taking portrait photos as well.

James Garcia
8 years ago

I actually prefer landscape orientation, and was always turned off by Instagram’s square-only format. That kept me off of the platform for some time (and of course, once I finally sucked it up and began posting, they introduced landscape and portrait! Haha). Now I’m tempted to go back through and upload the landscape versions of the square photos I’ve already posted. As far as how I approach a photo, I guess I usually picture it in landscape before I ever start shooting. I always feel a bit awkward shooting in portrait; it’s like writing left-handed! Sometimes, I enjoy playing around… Read more »

8 years ago

I’m a big fan of square format, it removes the decision of whether to go portrait or landscape! I do find that format a bit awkward to print though, it wastes paper and it’s difficult to find standard sized frames. Also quite tricky to visualise in the viewfinder of an SLR. I much prefer the “robot” photo in portrait. The reflections balance out nicely whereas they’re cropped off in the landscape version. The second photo doesn’t generate as strong a preference, but I have a slight bias towards the portrait as I’m quite fond of portrait shots in general (and… Read more »

8 years ago

That’s the kind of article I love because it really makes you think about how you and others actually take pictures. You mentioned you instinctively shot in portrait mode because of your past experience with toy photography. Because of my experience with travel photography (which includes a lot of landscapes) I tend to do the opposite: I mostly use landscape mode. It’s maybe also because I feel more natural to hold a DSLR in landscape mode both when holding it in my hand or on a tripod. And finally looking at pictures on a computer screen for 15 years has… Read more »

8 years ago

Now you’ve got me thinking why I always shoot landscape. Basic camera design messed me up. It’s how I hold it so it’s how I capture. When I got the 7D I also got a battery grip so I’ve started challenging myself by turning the world on its side.

8 years ago

Hmhmhmmm, interesting thoughts indeed. As I haven´t got long time experience shooting I had to rely on what “feels” right. I mostly prefer landscape mode, just not exceptionally. It always depends on the object you want to shoot. I do agree with most that portrait mode is good for the first shot as it shows the reflection perfectly. The landscape mode works better for the second image as it emphasizes the way of action. A thought on the square format: As soon as apps like Squaready were there I enjoyed using them in order to not being limited to the… Read more »

Cole Burden
Cole Burden
8 years ago

I do shoot all my pictures in landscape, but generally with the ‘square’ in mind. Having said that, because most of my pictures tend to be a comic frame, I always have in mind to include space for the speech bubbles. However, landscape now allows for more room on a picture for speech and minifigures, thus allowing for more of a tale to be told. I used to use Squareready in the past to produce the wide-screen picture, but abandoned it as it was a bit too much trouble. On the other side, I would find portrait a bit too… Read more »

8 years ago

A fantastic thread.

I think I will keep my response to a full blown post later this week, because otherwise I would get very lengthy here anyway.

Thanks for kicking this off, Shelly !

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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