How do you use Portrait Versus Landscape Orientation? Part 2

by Mary Denman @MaryDenman

Mary Denman Photography

Today's photo tip is Part 2 in learning how to understand and use portrait and landscape orientations. This will help you learn how they affect your photography. We're going to examine pictures of people and see how each orientation affects them. We'll also look at a couple of shots with strong lines.


Portrait is the same as vertical orientation. 
Landscape is the same as taking a horizontal orientation. 

Let's get started. 
PHOTO 1: Portrait by Mary Denman


This is a picture of my daughter taken in portrait. Notice how uniform the green space around her is. 

She's the main focus of the picture. The plants in the foreground are not clear. They provide interest and soften the picture. 

PHOTO 2: Landscape by Mary Denman


I also took a picture of her in landscape orientation. Notice how the green space is not as uniformly placed around her in this photo. 

Between the two orientations, I much prefer Photo 1 in portrait. 

Why? The green in the first shot creates a beautiful backdrop that makes my daughter stand out. In the horizontal or landscape shot, the green is beautiful, but it overwhelms my subject. 

But lest you think that all people being photographed should be taken in portrait, let's look at pictures 3 & 4.
PHOTO 3: Portrait


This picture is a full body shot of my daughter and her husband, along with my younger daughter. 

I took this in portrait to get all of them in the frame. But you'll notice by doing that, their faces aren't the main part of the picture. Which is fine. My daughter wanted a full length shot. 

PHOTO 4: Landscape


Then, I rotated the camera and took a horizontal shot of the three of them. 

Can you see the difference? With Laura alone in a horizontal picture, the background drowned her out. But with three people in the photo, horizontal made more sense for the close up of them. They fill the frame. 

TIP 1: When choosing whether to use portrait or landscape for people photography, consider how the background will look in each orientation. You don't want lots of blank space around your subject, or a cluttered background. 

It only takes a second to do both orientations if you aren't sure. Then, you can look at them both and decide which works best. 

TIP 2: Experiment!! I can't stress this enough. Don't be afraid of getting it wrong. Practice now, today. Use a pet as a subject or find someone willing to be experimented on. Then, when the moment arrives to catch a quick shot, you'll be more prepared.

PHOTO 5: Landscape to emphasize the long lines

I'm including this shot to help you understand long lines and how they affect orientation. I accentuated it by cropping it to be narrow and long. But again, this is to help you see how the subject can make the orientation a little more obvious. 

This is a piano keyboard. In order to get the entire 88 keys in the picture, I had to take it in landscape or horizontal orientation. 

TIP 3: Look for strong lines in your composition and orient the camera to make the most of those lines. 

For Bloggers: Go back and look through several of your most recent blog posts. Which ones garnered the most activity, comments or had the most impact? Which ones seemed to not be as powerful? Just as I prefer the shot of my daughter in portrait best, because she stands out, your  most impactful posts probably have a clear focus.  As you analyze your posts, do you have the main thing you want to get across in focus? Does the point of the post stand out and is it clear? Or do you have a good point that's overwhelmed by too many details? Learn to frame your posts like you frame a photo. 

For Cell Phone Users: You actually have a little more freedom in taking pictures than DSLR users. While anyone can do post photography editing to crop photos, often your phone camera program will give you options of taking square pictures, for example. They offer this so you can upload to online streams like Instagram, Twitter, etc. Practice now with the different settings for picture sizes and see what they look like. 

Hope these tips help! 

Keep on clicking!


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