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Horizontal vs. Vertical Photographs


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When to Use Horizontal Photographs
Horizontal vs. Vertical Photographs
© Liz Masoner licensed to About.com, Inc.
Horizontal photographs are the most common photographic orientation because the camera is designed to take photographs this way. Many photographers do not think to turn the camera sideways to take a vertical image. Horizontal images are roughly the same format as how we see the world and have some distinct properties.

Horizontal images are best used:
  • When the subject is horizontal
    When your subject is wider than it is tall, a horizontal image compliments the subject.

  • To allow the subject to move horizontally
    When your subject is moving from one side of the frame to the other, using a horizontal format in conjunction with the rule of thirds visually allows the subject room to continue moving. This will amplify the sense of motion in the image. This is also true of subjects looking to the side. Having open space to the side allows the subject's gaze to continue farther than is possible in a vertical image.

  • To convey a sense of space
    Horizontal images can be used to suggest a sense of largeness in landscapes. If a small subject is placed in a large field they can also be used to suggest loneliness.
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