Horizontal versus Vertical

When I was learning photography my mentor adamantly told me to only take photos in the landscape – or the horizontal position.  He never told me why he simply said just do it and don’t hold your camera vertically.  So, for years afterwards I did just what he told me and it was easy to get stuck and take every photo with the camera held horizontally.

Needless to say, I missed some interesting photos and compositions by never turning my camera vertically.  Additionally, I lost out on many sales to magazines because all magazines are laid out vertically.

Our brains are becoming more and more used to landscape (horizontal) format as a way of viewing photographs.  This may be due to us looking at televisions, computer screens or even movie screens for so long.  Because of the way we are trained to look, it is easy to forget that anything but landscape format exists.  By simply turning your camera 90 degrees, you might dramatically improve your image.

So, I am going to tell you to decide which is best.

Our cameras are designed to be most comfortable held in a horizontal orientation, providing a nice grip to wrap your hand around so your other hand can operate the controls.  So it stands to reason that many photographers will make far more horizontal images than vertical.

Try turning your camera to get a vertical shot instead of horizontal.  In fact, if you are not sure whether horizontal or vertical is best, try both.  Be prepared to turn your camera in whichever direction you need to turn it – even tilted, to make a great shot rather than a snapshot.

This is a very simple lesson that can make a huge impact on your photo composition.

Take a look at the following examples.  You’ll see the same image twice, once with the horizontal orientation and then again with the vertical orientation.  As you view the images, think about which orientation creates a stronger photo composition.  Horizontal?  or Vertical?

Horizontal?

Vertical?

Horizontal?

Vertical?

Horizontal?

Vertical?

Horizontal?

Vertical?

Horizontal?

Vertical?

For some images, both Horizontal and Vertical work beautifully for a strong composition.

In other images, one aspect will make your composition stronger than another.  There is nothing wrong with taking a photo both horizontally and vertically. Sometimes seeing will help you decide which is best for the strongest composition.

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