How to use Portrait vs Landscape Format in Photography

Michael • updated July 21, 2022 • 8 min read

How to use Portrait vs Landscape Format in Photography

If you’re a photographer, you’ll probably wonder sooner or later whether you should set your camera to portrait or landscape mode. As a photographer, you always have to make decisions, and this is an essential one because it affects how the photo looks.

In fact, you could say that this is among the most important decisions you’ll make when you’re shooting. Let’s start by making sure we all know what each word means.

In photography, the terms “landscape” and “portrait” have been around since the beginning. Beginner photographers need to know the difference between landscape and portrait even when doing simple things like taking a photos or printing a document.


 

Let’s look into landscape and portrait format

When the camera is in a normal position, the format is landscape. On the other hand, photos taken with a smartphone are in a portrait format.

So, most pictures taken with cameras are probably in landscape format, while most pictures taken with phones are in portrait format.

In this article, we’ll talk about the main ways that portrait and landscape are different and also talk about which of the two orientations is better and when it’s best to use both.

We’ll also show you some easy ways to use your camera or phone when taking pictures in portrait or landscape mode.

Portrait format, on the other hand, is called “portrait format.”

Portrait and landscape formats have been around since the beginning of photography. They are also used for printing pictures (“page orientation”).

If you look around your house, you will definitely find a TV and a computer monitor or laptop screen. Each of these devices can be used in landscape mode.

Whether or not your TV has an ultra-wide screen, it has a rectangular shape with a longer top and bottom edges than side edges.

You can also think of it as being horizontal instead of vertical. In this case, the sides would be longer than the top and bottom.

In photography, there is no difference between a portrait and a landscape. Let’s look at these two ideas and how they relate to photography.

What is the portrait format?

When an image is in portrait orientation, the frame is vertical, and the sides are longer than the top and bottom edges. As the name suggests, portrait orientation is great for taking pictures of people. In this case, a person’s torso is taller than it is wide, so that’s how your photo will look.

Think about your head. It’s taller than it is wide. When you take a headshot or portrait of a face, you usually include the neck, face, and hair.

The head is tall instead of wide because of these factors, which makes it better for portrait orientation, i.e., portrait orientation.

It will look much more natural if you frame your face in portrait orientation. Keep in mind that this orientation isn’t just for portraits of living people. It can be used creatively for all sorts of things and scenes.

What is the landscape format?

Landscape refers to how the camera is held when taking pictures of things like landscapes. Like your TV, which is on its side, the top and bottom edges are longer than the sides.

Landscape features are usually much wider than they are tall. Picture yourself looking at a range of mountains with a light blue sky above them and empty fields in front of them. Hold your camera in landscape mode to get as many of the best parts of the scene as possible.

This way, you’ll get less of the sky and ground in front of and behind the mountains. It also makes the mountains the most noticeable part of the picture and gives the whole thing a good balance.

Which is better: portrait or landscape?

It all depends on what you want to do with the picture and how you want to put it together.

The first basic rule of composition you should think about when shooting is whether you want to take a portrait or a landscape. Video is the same way.

Some of the things you photograph will look better in portrait orientation. Some things will look better in landscape format. With practice, you’ll be able to figure out which format gives you the best balance and flow.

There is no right or wrong choice, but you can follow some good guidelines for how to put an image together.

For example, if you take a picture of something tall in landscape mode, it won’t look as good. The topic will seem squished. Or, if you take a picture of a large, wide subject in portrait mode, it will look like the subject is trying to push out of the sides of the frame.

Let’s look at when you should use portrait and when you should use landscape.

Portrait and landscape format for what motif?

The portrait format is perfect for tall buildings or trees, single people, and even giraffes. When you choose the right format, it’s also easier to choose the best image detail.

You don’t have to always use the “original format.” If the subject is right, a square image may could be better.

People who use traditional cameras like to take pictures in landscape format, but people who use smartphones are used to holding them in portrait format. In these situations, there is no sign of image composition; it’s just a matter of familiarity and convenience.

As we’ve talked about here, using portrait or landscape orientation is important in photography for a number of important reasons. It is the first thing to think about when putting together an image.

Using the right orientation makes it even easier to make an image that looks good and moves well.

If you know the difference between landscape and portrait orientation, you are much more likely to take creative pictures.

When to use the portrait format

When you take a portrait, you hold your camera so that it and the picture are both taller than they are wide. It’s easy to remember the types of photography that often use portrait orientation.

  • Portrait photography is the first and most obvious one. As we’ve already talked about, the face and head of a person fit better in a portrait because they are taller than they are wide.
  • Even though many photographers can take portraits in the landscape, the composition can feel off. To avoid this, you can set up your picture so that the person’s face isn’t in the middle and looks toward the empty space.
  • This orientation is used in more than just portrait photography. Portrait mode is used when you want to take a full-body picture, like in fashion photography or couple portraits.
  • Another example is when you’re taking a picture of something big and tall. This could be a big rock in the landscape or a tall building in architecture.
  • If you move a little closer to a tall object, the image can look very dynamic, as if the object is towering over you.

When to use the landscape format

The landscape format is most often used for landscape photography, which makes sense given the name.

  • The main reason for this is that a landscape backdrop is usually wide and big. The scene is made up of lakes, mountain ranges, and interesting skies.
  • Most of the time, you would use the landscape format to get as much of this as possible and make a dramatic and exciting photo.
  • You can sometimes use the portrait format in landscape photography, but it really depends on how the photo is put together. If your subject is tall, like a tree or a big rock, you may want to take a portrait.
  • Street photography, event photography, and group shots are other types of photography that use the landscape.
  • Streets, buildings, and things that move side to side are typical. Most of the time, there are a lot of people in an event or group photo. You would need to use a landscape format to fit them all into the composition.
  • If you used portrait format, your subjects would be squeezed into the frame, and there would be things at the top and bottom of the picture that you don’t need.
  • At first, beginners should stick to these alignments based on the situation. Then, by trying and failing, they can figure out what happens when they mix them.

The Rule of Thirds applies to portrait & landscape format

There really is no difference between portrait mode and landscape mode in this area. You might think that with portrait mode, you want to center the subject, but that’s not the case.

If you put your subject in the middle of a photo in either direction, it’s probably not going to be very interesting. You should always use the rule of thirds, which is one thing to think about when deciding whether to shoot in portrait mode or landscape mode.

Using the rule of thirds to adjust your composition according to Golden Ratio or diagonal lines depending on the scene. 

The panorama format

We usually see panoramas in the landscape format, but this extreme version can also be used in the portrait format. The effect of either the portrait or landscape format is improved by the panorama format.

Panoramas get more attention because of their unusual shape:

  • Most of the time, landscapes are put into the panorama format.
  • The landscape format panorama is also suitable for skylines.
  • The low height of the image makes it feel even bigger.
  • For a panorama to be interesting, the eye must move around the image for a while, and not be able to take it all in at once. The best way to do this is to use different points of view and contrasts in color and brightness.
  • Since portrait panoramas don’t happen very often, they stand out right away. But because the image is cropped so closely, it can be difficult to keep the viewer’s attention for long.

The square format

It’s important to know which shots should be taken in this format before you take them, so you can set up the shot in the right way. To do this, put your subject in the middle of the landscape format and crop out the right and left sides.

  • The square format is not used as often in proportion, it stands out.
  • The square format looks balanced and still because of its symmetry.
  • Square pictures are great for things that are round and symmetrical, like flower heads or mandalas.
  • Because of Instagram and instant cameras like Polaroid, the square is cool right now.
  • Some cameras also let you fade into a square shape. This helps you figure out how to put the picture together.

What do you want to do with the picture?

The shooting format depends on not only the subject and how the image’s parts are weighted, but also on how the photo will be used.

On Instagram, the photos in the feed are shown in a square shape. You can also upload images in a 4:5 format, in which case they will be cropped when they are shown in the feed. So make sure that the most important part of your image is still visible in the square format.

Images in landscape format work best for a slide show or presentation. If you still want to include portrait-style photos, try putting them in a row. Switching between formats a lot can be confusing.

Due to the width of the columns or the way the monitor is set up, landscape format photos work best in newspaper articles and on websites.

Since most of the photos we take are in landscape format, most photo books are also in landscape format. Photos in portrait format can only be shown very small, so they don’t look as good.

More about about formats:
Portrait and landscape orientation in Word and Excel
Required Instagram Video Sizes and Dimensions
Panorama Photography Tips for Nature Photographers
The London Gigapixel is finished
Google Slides – Rotate to Portrait Mode


Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between portrait and landscape?

In portrait mode, an image, photo, drawing, painting, or page is displayed in a vertical position. In landscape mode, an image, photo, drawing, painting, or page is displayed in a horizontal position.

What does the term “landscape format” mean?

A horizontal screen is what a landscape orientation means. Size-wise, a landscaped page, image, or painting is taller but narrower. For example, when a camera is held straight up and a picture is taken, this is called “landscape mode.”

When should I take pictures in landscape format?

Landscape means that the camera is held horizontally when taking a picture. Landscape orientation is often used to take pictures of mountains, city skylines, and seascapes.

A landscape image is any picture of a place in the world. It works best for taking pictures of nature that make the viewer feel like they are there.

Which format for street photography?

Even though horizontal lines and elements are a big part of street photography, that doesn’t mean you can only take portraits. All of it depends on what you think best shows the vertical and horizontal parts of a scene.

If you want to draw attention to something tall, like a tree, a portrait shot is a great way to do that. On the other hand, you can use the landscape mode if you think that getting more things in the background will make the story better.

Is portrait or landscape better for real estate photography?

If you’re taking a picture of a high-rise building and want to show how intricate the design is, portrait mode is better than landscape mode. When you get close to a tall subject, it gives a portrait a dynamic feel, like the building is towering over the viewer.

On the other hand, landscape mode is great for showing how big the inside or outside of a house or a complex building is.

Is portrait format best for fashion photography?

Both portrait and landscape orientations are used in fashion, but you still need to make sure that the composition works for the subjects, setting, and overall feel. For full-body photos, the best way to make the people look tall is to take them in portrait mode.


What is your take on How to use Portrait vs Landscape Format in Photography? Let us know in the comments.

By Furoore team member Michael
Furoore Team is here to assist you in capturing the most significant moments in your life. To create exciting photographs, discover photography guides, find unique photo ideas, and limitless image inspiration.

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